Books on Family: Not so Fast by Ann Kroeker
On Maundy Thursday our son is scheduled for surgery—nothing too serious, but rather intricate and we will be at the hospital all day. That morning I read the account of the garden at Gethsemane from Matthew. Here, Jesus tells his disciples, “Stay here and keep watch with me.” After we sign in at the surgery center and wait and trade clothes for a hospital gown and wait some more, I tell my husband that this is what it feels like we are doing—keeping watch. But we packed a bag for the waiting and in it are both of our tablets, our smart phones, two books for reading, a sketchpad for drawing, and a Bible. I’m hoping to finish editing an article I’ve been working on and he has a PowerPoint presentation he’s been tweaking. It’s hard on the productivity to miss a day of work, but maybe we can get some things done while we wait.
And then our Pastor shows up.
He prays over our son and when they take the boy to surgery he announces he will wait with us. Do you know that good man sat with us from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.?
We didn’t get a single bit of work accomplished.
But what a rich day we had.
In the introduction to her book Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families, Ann Kroeker tells us this is a book “…for those moving toward a slower, more reflective and peaceful life—a life that makes room for knowing and loving God and people…”
Ann begins with the story of renowned classical violinist Joshua Bell playing Bach’s “Chaconne” in the subway. Have you heard this story? How, during the forty-three minutes he played, only seven people stopped to listen? How every time a child passed by he or she tried to watch but every single time a parent dragged the child away? Ann Kroeker starts her book with this story and in that first chapter she asks: What Are We Missing Out On?
Our Pastor doesn’t play the violin but if he hadn’t stayed with us during our son’s surgery I wouldn’t know the story of how he met his wife. I wouldn’t know that he felt a call to ministry at the sweet age of nine. I wouldn’t know how my husband could open up—unfold right before my eyes because of the love of another person.
We are made to relate to one another. And the busyness we choose on a daily basis keeps us from living out this God-given part of our nature. We are left empty and tired. Worn out from shouldering the burdens of life alone.
“We…assume that our days need to be filled with activities identical to those of the surrounding culture, and that our kids need to participate in a long list of sports and music enrichment opportunities in order to get ahead in life.”
These assumptions, Kroeker says, have “left us with anemic relationships with both the Lord and each other.”
In chapter three How Did We Get Here? the author tells the story of how a life-threatening illness suddenly struck her husband and how this impacted their family’s view of the best ways to spend their time.
“When we settled back in at home, our lives were stripped down to the essentials. No one imposed outside expectations or obligations on us; no one pressured us to volunteer or sign up for committees or work late hours. Instead of all that doing, we could simply be.”
In the slow-moving days following my son’s surgery—days filled with pain and difficult moments—there is peace. I think of Ann’s story and ours and I know that living slower will take a deliberate stepping out of the norm. Why wait for crisis to experience this rich well of fruit? Aren't we all keeping watch?
Not so Fast seems the perfect book to read right after Easter—this season we are reminded of new life and the upside down way Christ modeled it for us. It’s countercultural, this slowing down.
On Mondays in April we are discussing Ann Kroeker's book Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. If you've posted on your blog about the book, leave your link in the comments. Or, just jump in the discussion! Join us next week as Seth Haines leads us in discussing chapters4-7.