In Defense of Slowness

Written by Devon Bowman 

I do not know if you can call what I am about to say a confession of personal fault or just an observation of our culture as a whole but here it goes. There are times I am scrolling through my phone on Facebook or a news app and I spot a title that piques my interest. I click the link to see what bit of information, tragedy, or humor I am seeking. I read the first two paragraphs with great interest and focus…and then it happens. All the concentration I had in the beginning floats away like vapor and I do the unthinkable. I scroll to see how much longer I have. Scandalous, right? If I find the article is short enough to suit me, then I may finish; however, if my scrolling continues for too long to suit my fancy, that is the end for me. 

As you read my confession you may think this is not out of the ordinary. You may have even been nodding along in agreement with every word I wrote. In our world of microwaves, drive-thrus, short Tweets, Instagram stories, and short blogs (like you are reading now) a short attention seems normal. But is this the case? Is speed a virtue or a vice? Is there room for contemplation and slowness? 

In the 23rd Psalm, David writes about the Lord “mak[ing him] lie down in green pastures” and “lead[ing him] beside quiet waters.” His response is that it “restores [his] soul.” Today I feel as though our breakneck pace would change us to say we drive quickly past green pastures and that we cannot hear the quiet waters because we have our headphones in our ears. Maybe this is one of the reasons our souls are shattered. 

Fear of missing out, or “FOMO,” is the malady of our age. We are afraid of not being a part of the next big thing, or the thing that everyone is talking about. The problem with this approach is that we can end up touching many things but not spending enough time to achieve the depth that is necessary. 

Many times when I think of the times that I truly get to know a person or a subject matter, it is when I have given many sustained instances of focus on that person or thing. Concentration is the “superpower” of this day and age. If I had to describe concentration using the fruits of the Spirit I would have to say it is a combination of patience and self-control. Let us then make room for slowness in our lives. Read a book instead of an article. Take a walk and watch the birds. Spend time with family without technology. Read a book of the Bible in one sitting. Taking your time is not a waste of life; it is the key to depth.

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