On Monday I took part in a seminar on silence and solitude. As i turned onto the highway near my house I was immediately confronted by two signs put up by council road workers. The first was, “Slow down”, followed closely by “Prepare to stop.” I recognised the irony of these signs on two accounts, firstly as they were right at the entry of a freeway on which people showed no desire to slow down or stop! The second was that I was going to a seminar on silence an hour or so away and I had to be home to catch a connecting flight to Sydney later that day. So while I sought silence and solitude, I was caught up in the busyness of ordinary life.
One of the sessions at the seminar involved us partaking in a ‘slow food” experience. A plate of fruit was passed around and we were invited to notice the colours, textures, aromas and finally the sensation of taste and eating. It was all to be done slowly and with great attention and focus. Comments ranged from how much more pleasurable the experience was, how eating slowly would mean we would eat less, to simply, I enjoyed the time I took to eat the food.
It took me back to the days of my youth when we used to sit around a dining room table as a family and partake in a meal. It wasn’t rushed. People didn’t have to be any where. We ate slowly and talked a lot. We listened and remembered, spoke and were heard, saw how to respond to others and how they would respond to us, and much more.
In an age of fast food, and even faster lives, there is a need to recover slow food and the intensity of attention it brings into our lives.
It also reminded me, as we begin another Holy Week leading up to Easter, that this week is a slow food week. A time when we stop and digest Jesus the Christ, his life, his death and his resurrection; his intensity of attention to being fully engaged in ordinary life and in his relationship with God.
May we not only “slow down” and not only ‘prepare to stop’ but actually stop and pay full attention to this pivotal festival of our Christian year.