3 a : moving, flowing, or proceeding without speed or at less than usual speed
The girls and I are trying something new this week with our school schedule. We stop whatever we are doing at 10:00 and go for a walk around the block - to get some fresh air, some sunshine, and just to take a break. I got this idea from a wise friend of mine and I've waited until now to attempt it in the hopes that I could join my daughters for a small trip around the block. But even before I got to the end of our street, I knew it wasn't to be. The first sign was a throbbing ankle, then a knee that didn't want to bend joined the chorus in my mind saying, "Slow. Go slow." Resigned, I told my daughters to continue on without me and meet me back at home.
As I walked slowly home, I thought about how often I've been getting this message to slow down. When my ankle started hurting in July, I limped for several days before going to see the doctor. During this time, I had to walk slowly. My body simply would not let me walk at my normal pace. On a trip to Lowe's, I realized why this was hard for me. In addition to the physical pain (which I certainly can bear), there was what I came to think of as the embarrassment factor. I walk quickly so that people have less time to notice me. I felt like a spectacle limping to the van from Lowe's that day. That feeling has only increased as I've had to field countless questions about the large grey air cast I have to wear to support my fractured ankle. I have been a walking spectacle over the last month. It's not a feeling I enjoy.
Some people like being seen - or even need it. It validates them and lets them know they are doing the right things. I have a friend who once commented that her children would not be overlooked by people - she would see to that. I immediately thought, "There are worse things than being overlooked." And while I want to be sure I see my children for who they are, I am not preoccupied with them being seen by others. I try to not prevent that when they seek it, but I don't seek it on their behalf.
Yet there is this tension in me about being seen vs. blending in. I don't want to be noticed most of the time, but I can't deny that it feels good to be known. Yesterday as I hobbled up to the communion rail, my priest raised a questioning eye at my cast (he'd been out of the country visiting family these last weeks) and then after he gave me the bread, he prayed for healing for me. It touched me that he not only noticed my condition, but immediately lifted me up to God for healing, right there at the communion rail.
Later that same night, J was asking me whether he might enjoy a series of books I've read. I told him I didn't think they his type - more historical fiction than fantasy/sci-fi. He then asked whether A could read them. That got an adamant head shake, accompanied by "No," mouthed quietly as A sat nearby. A and J then laughed about the way I say No when I want to give it force and emphasis. J turned to me and said, "Isn't it nice to be known?"
It is nice to be known. Being known requires being seen. The enforced period of slowness and healing I am in is teaching me many things. Chief among them, that I can (and perhaps should) risk the pain of being seen for the joy of being known.
The timing of this injury is interesting since it's hardly a time I want to slow down. I would much rather be moving quickly between school work and house work, readying our possessions for selling or packing and moving. Surely the timing is no coincidence. In forcing me to slow down just when I have the most to do, it makes me aware not only of my own limitations, but of how my limitations make me feel. Because I am good at the thinking, not so great at the feeling.
So as you perhaps bustle through your day, getting things done in a pleasing and satisfying way, think about what it might mean to slow down. What would it cost you? What would it give you?