Tending the Soul: Tempo

Be still and know that I am God.
-Psalm 46:10

After last fall's Camino de Santiago week-long walk, I've been trying to live in the way this walk trained us. I'm watching daily for the signs, markers and arrows that God uses to point the way for my unique journey or life path.

Lately, I've also been invited to pay attention to the tempo of my life. Tempo is the speed or pace of a musical piece - how fast or slow it is played. I've just come back from a week of vacation in the Arizona desert, with leisurely mornings by a pool reading, reflecting and meditating... and afternoons lazily kayaking down the slow Colorado river. It was a time to bask in slow time and the renewal it brings.

God has certainly been asking me to pay attention to slowness this spring. Within one month's time, I was stopped by police three times! "Slow down.” Yield slower.” “Go slow, an accident is ahead.” For someone who has not had a traffic violation in ages, this couldn't help get my attention as a sign or marker event and a message. It is so easy to drive a little too fast - and live too fast. We accommodate to the pace of others, whether it’s the cars around us or the normalcy of most people's fully-packed lives.

What benefits does slowing down afford us? Why might God invite us (me) to integrate more slow time in the song of our lives? I know for me, when I remember to slow down and yield to the present moment I am more present in my life as it is being lived. I can listen more deeply to my own heart’s stirrings, as well as the hearts of those around me. I welcome more easily the experiences, thoughts and feelings arising in my daily life, accepting them as teachers and guides for the new places God’s Spirit is taking me.

Of course there are times when God calls us to live in the fast lane, where we must keep up with new opportunities, demands and commitments in front of us.  But let us not forget that there is also the necessity of a slower pace - that slow tempo that allows us to catch up with what God is doing within our souls and pay attention to the new paths we are being led to walk.  In times of stillness we come to "know" God’s presence and calming movement in our mind, heart and soul.  


For Soul Tending

In what ways might God be getting your attention to slow down?


Nancy Black, co-founder of Centering Way, is a spiritual director and psychotherapist.