Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thoughts: A Carriage Ride

Last night, my son and I visited some of my new friends in Vermont. We had a cookout then took a long horse carriage ride through the Vermont countryside. I am new here, so everything is new to me, but what struck me was that my friends who have lived here for ages, kept saying the same thing as we rattled up the winding country road - about all the new things they were seeing because of the slow pace of the horse drawn carriage.

Now understand, Southern Vermont is not exactly the big city. Towns here limit the speed to between 30 and 40 miles an hour, and no one goes anywhere fast. There's a real embracing of a slower pace of life. That's part of why people love it here, I am learning. But the horse ride was slower still and indeed, your eye could linger on things as you pass them, or probe through the trees up the hollows, seeing things you missed in a car ride. Even those who had lived here a long time were discovering new houses, or other features.

It got me thinking about how much we miss rushing through life. And how we fool ourselves that we are doing more in all that rush. Maybe we're just doing different things, but also missing things in our rush. It may not just be scenery, like last night, but also relational things, or things that could be bringing a richness to our lives.

Three and a half years ago, I was encouraged by a counselor to begin writing down my day, and the emotions different events of the day brought to my mind. It's a practice I still do most days. Because it makes me slow down and appreciate the range of feelings I have each day, and the richness of it all.

Slowing down has spiritual benefits as well, I have learned. In fact, slowing down has shown me the truth in my favorite bible verse: Be still and know I am God. Too much activity separates us from the gifts of God, because as we rush through life we miss them, just as the people on the wagon ride missed the lovely scenery as they drove down the road each day.

I don't think you have to run slow all the time. But having a time of slowness each day can add so much to our lives. Our ride took maybe 45 minutes or an hour. Yet it added a real abundance to our day. A few minutes in the morning, a bit of time at night. It's amazing what a difference it can make to the whole day.

Be still.



The picture is of the carriage being brought around for us to ride on it. You can click on it for a larger version.



Dave King said...

I very much like the idea of writing down the emotions associated with events. Useful, that.

willow said...

The Steven Curtis Chapman song will be in head head the rest of the day.

FireLight said...

Tom, this is such an important reflection. I may share this with my seniors this year when we are working on our journals--with your permission. I drive 40 miles to my school each morning and the same 40miles back each evening. I study the landscapes, but I know I get a distorted image. I vow this year that I will stop the car to take a photograph of the fall mist that floats above the Chattahoochee River on an October morning. I have always wanted one of those plaques with your favorite passage for my classroom. Thank you for for this time to be still.