By Sister Karen Zielinski, OSF
I was late, as usual, reading my latest issue of Newsweek. I force myself to read through the weekly magazine, sometimes just skimming the articles so that I am somewhat informed about world news.
Ha! Whom am I kidding? I forget what is happening in Belgium, Taiwan and Iraq by the time the next issue arrives. I read too fast and I don’t retain things after about thirty seconds.
That is why I was fascinated by Malcolm Jones’ recent Newsweek article on slowing down. He tells of the annual International Day of Slowness (IDOS) which takes place on June 21—the longest day of the year. The tradition started in Milan in 2007. Jones adds that the day challenges us to “step out of the fast lane by doing less, taking your time at it, reflecting more on it, at least for one day.”
The slowness trend is happening all over the world. There is slow food (mindfully prepared from locally grown food), slow money, slow travel and now slow reading. I was slowed down by this one since I have never been a fast reader. As a boomer, I recalled President John F. Kennedy’s speed-reading ability to read four newspapers every morning. Not me!
This slowness seems to be a spiritual call to “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:11. That was one of my favorite quotes from my Novitiate (Sister-formation days).
Another saying from my early Franciscan days surfaced: “Francis of Assisi learned in his prayer that the presence of the Holy Spirit, for which he longed, was granted more intimately when he was far from the rush of worldly affairs.” Major Life, Bonaventure, LM XIII
Slow reading is supported by authors, teachers and professors. A book by John Miedema, Slow Reading, tells us that reading slowly can increase the mindfulness we bring to a routine activity. He adds that, “Slow reading is about bringing more of the person to bear on the book.”
I love the concept. It validated the fact that from reading my high school chemistry book to my daily scripture or spiritual reading to a well written novel, I am a snail. This slowness is a spiritual approach to life and the wonderful gift of reading.
I think it works. I skimmed over what happened in Taiwan and Belgium and cannot remember much. I took my time with this piece and decided—very slowly-- that it’s OK to be slow. It is a beautiful, spiritual thing. I slow pray and slow worship….