Advent One: Slow us down, Lord

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“Come thou long expected Jesus...”

Advent is a season of expectation and the definition of expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” And so in expectation we must wait. As the prophets waited. For centuries. And the Magi waited. For years. And Mary waited. For months. 

But we are not a waiting people. We are a rushing people. 

Here in the 21st century, we bow to the god of instant gratification. We are constantly disrupted by segmented ideas at hyper speed. They are delivered to our inboxes, placed in our newsfeeds, enabled by Instagram and propagated by every preferential banner ad.

As our technology has sped, so have our heart rates. Our thoughts, once paced by stories spoken, the rhythm of our steps, the text on a page, are rushed by an onslaught of information with which none can keep pace. The Internet and other technologies allow us to escape the inner gaze while painfully slow moments — peeling carrots, tending to a sick child, waiting for a bus — necessitate reflection. 

“A common symptom of modern life is that there is no time for letting the impressions of the soul to sink in.” - Thomas Moore, Care for the Soul

In the absence of technology, in the presence of nature and people, the blessedly mundane, we find a different kind of story. One that has been slowly unfolding for millennia. 

It is the story of the coming King.

Here in the holy pause of Advent, may we join together and fervently pray:

Slow me down, Lord.

Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations – of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to smile at a child, to read a few lines from a good book.

Slow me down, Lord and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values, that I may grow toward my greater destiny. Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Let me look upward to the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

— Orin D. Crain, 1615

Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.

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Christina Crook is the Canadian author of The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World  and Lead Storyteller for Gather Women. www.jomobook.com