Power of the Slowing

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It was a busy morning, and I was packing the boys’ lunches--getting everything ready for school. That’s when Jeffrey, 10, rushed by the back door--heading toward the kitchen. Suddenly, he stopped. “Wow. Have you seen the moon this morning?” We were going to be late. But I couldn’t help myself. I paused what I was doing and joined him in front of the window. And there it was, my full faced moon-friend, hanging low in the misty dark of the pre-dawn. I moved behind my boy and wrapped my arms around his ever-growing body. And. We. Just. Looked. “It’s glowing,” he said. “The fog diffuses the light,” I said, distracted. “That is so cool.” His voice was an awed whisper. I kissed the top of his head. And everything slowed down after that.

Have you felt it? The Power of the Slowing? That’s the title of chapter two in Gerald May’s The Wisdom of the Wilderness. He describes the sensation: I relax again as I drive on into the mountain forest’s arms, feeling an encircling warmth, more, more. The closer I get to the State Forest, the stronger the welcoming becomes. I feel it like a caress, and I sense myself responding to it, wanting to gently enter gentleness, desiring to be as hospitable to the wilderness as it is to me… May goes on to say that he doesn’t understand this feeling, compelling as it is. All that he understands is that he has been slowed down. He is talking about more than a moment of quiet stillness gazing at the moon. What May calls the Power of the Slowing seems to me to be a deliberate effort to be still and know God. A deliberate slowing down, quieting the mind. But in May’s experience, this slowing is not of his own doing. He is slowed by a Power. And it is in this slowing that May comes face to face with the Divine. Something he had yearned for all his life. Before the encounter with the Power of the Slowing I had had many experiences of what I would call Divine Presence, but they were always indirect, what the theologians call mediated. I felt the Great Mystery through the birth of my children, through the love of my wife and family and friends, through the beauty of sunsets and music. I sensed grace abounding in people: in their healing, growing, choosing love, finding their ways…all these experiences were evidences of the Divine Presence, signs of grace, results of God’s goodness, all once removed from their Source…My cup overflowed with mediated experience, yet I thirsted for the immediate.

These words caused me to ponder. Simply because the experiences May mentions are the very ones in which I have felt the Power of God with acute profundity. What May refers to as mediated, I have felt as immediate. There have been times when I am praying with my children that I am sure I feel the breath of God on my cheek. These moments are filled with God’s palpable presence. I did not go on a spiritual journey or enter into a deep meditative state to feel this amazing Presence. God draws us to Him in many ways. Sometimes He reveals Himself to us no matter what we do. He desires deep, intimate moments with each of us. This is what May finds in the wilderness that day: unique, direct, intimate experience with God. And his longing was fulfilled. Food for thought: *What is your experience with mediated versus immediate encounters with the Divine? *What do you think about experiential faith--that is, a faith that seeks out and maybe even depends on feeling these kinds of direct encounters with God? *What has your wilderness been speaking to you this week?

Next Week: Chapter three, Night Fear. Photo by nAncY, used with permission. Post by Laura Boggess