When I think of wilderness, I imagine a forest. I think of branches, filtered light, and a strong possibility of a sprained ankle. If I imagine the church to be in a wilderness time now, I have to apply the same wisdom that I would to a hike through this wild forest. You cannot move quickly through a space like that. You must slow down. If not, there is ample opportunity to get cracked across the head with a tree branch, fall down an uneven slope, or generally just get lost. Wilderness travel requires patience.
It’s difficult for me to remember this when my instinct in times of anxiety and stress is to speed up. “If only I could do more,” I think, “how I could solve these problems and keep everyone happy!”
I am reminded of simple exercises like keeping a time log. Whenever I have tracked my church activity, I have found that I am trying to cram the work of twelve people into a single day. I have to be mindful to slow down, to practice Sabbath, and to remind myself that I am not the savior of the world. If we are in a wilderness time and space we have to carefully move through the obstacles ahead of us. We cannot do this faithfully if we are blindly rushing ahead.
One way I have been doing this is by intentionally setting aside time for a slow spiritual practice. For me, this has been painstakingly painting with watercolor outlines of scripture passages. I cannot rush or the colors will bleed everywhere. Instead, I take time to dwell in the message I am painting and, occasionally, this even allows me to catch my breath.
May you too find a practice and path to slow down.
By Rachel McDonald