Minnesota Mamaleh: Slow Religion Anyone?

Slow livin', indeed.

I’ve recently added a few more responsibilities to my Stay-At-Home-Mom repertoire. Writing, a work-from-home gig, committees, stressing out about Kayli starting first grade.
These commitments mean that I’m sleep deprived (often), snippy (sometimes), not always fully present when I’m with my children (sadly) and my husband? (Hi Babe!) That might be the extent of our heart-to-heart for the day.
I know that I’m not the only one experiencing the side effects of the hustle bustle of life that has become so the norm, the expectation, the just-the-way-it-is, that we find ourselves having crazy-self-talk such as, What can I possibly get done now? if we happen to stumble upon a minute of blessed silence.
Enter the Slow Movement.
Slow living has been the answer to how busy, scheduled and fast life has gotten. Kids in a million activities, fast food on a more regular basis, shortened versions of stories to “get through” bedtime reading faster. More classes. More activities. More skills. More money. More resume builders. More stuff.

Green Sherpa over at Divine Caroline writes, “When you’re busy fulfilling the urge to be everyone’s everything all the time, there’s something incredibly restoring to closing the door, waving the white flag, and being unproductive.”

And I think that we’re all starting to get that. Many of us have backed off of the More!-mantra and have taken a slower, more balanced, meaningful approach to our children and our families. We garden, we play board games, we sign up for one activity at a time.

Our kids know to *always* stop at a lemonade stand.

And, apparently, to drink every last drop.

And I can't think of anything "slower" than that!

But as I was reading about all things slow (in a good way), it struck me that I didn’t see much about slow religion. What would slow look like in terms of religion and spirituality? Fascinating, right?
While we understand everyday pressures, I think that a similar tension exists for people to be “religious,” per se. Timelines, deadlines, expectations, traditions. They can be wonderful, for sure. But they don’t always feel that way.
For example, our family doesn’t currently belong to a synagogue. And most of the time, this works for us. But every so often I start fretting over that decision. For the community and the one-of-many feeling, for sure. But mostly, because of the dates and deadlines. Sunday School Classes! Confirmations! Bat and Bar Mitzvahs! Camps! I worry about our children missing out on important life changing events and activities because of the timeliness factor. ChopChop! We need to do religion? Really?
So this concept has been nagging at me. Are my children missing out on the sweet aspects of religion because we’re not affiliated? So, I did what I do and I reached out to people who strike me as mindful of their religiosity and spirituality. And simply asked, in an admittedly annoyingly vague way, “How do you do slow religion?

Steve Frazee, of SBNR.org explains, “Maybe “slow religion” or “slow spirituality” is the practice of recognizing the moments when we feel deeply connected to The Divine and learning to savor those moments. For me, and other SBNR people, such moments don’t arise at weekly church services. They happen in nature or in the simplest wonders of daily life.  Some come on slowly like a rolling thunder and others like a light switch.  However they arise, the practice is to recognize the moment and stay with it as long as possible. Maybe “slow religion” is the practice of turning brief glimpses of God into a lifetime of bliss?

Melissa, of MamaMubba weighs in with, “One of my favorite opportunities to slow down is when I am able to attend our LDS temple with my husband. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect, ponder and meditate. Our worldly cares are forgotten and we are able to focus on our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We receive the perspective that we need to make sure that our lives are in order and our priorities in place. It’s a humbling experience that reminds me of my divine nature.”

And April, of BuddhistMama adds, “In sitting in meditation, we focus solely on our breath. We don’t think about (or try really hard not to) what comes next, what we still need to do. This helps us to slow down and reconnect with our bodies and with the environment around us. I do a hugging meditation with my kiddos where they sit facing me in my lap, just feeling each other’s heartbeat and breath, reconnecting at the most basic levels.

Sigh. Are the words “amazing” and “awe-inspiring” on the tip-of-your-tongue? Me, too!
These thoughts, experiences, moments-in-time are the slow religion that I was wondering about and trying to define. Each voice had so very much more to say, share and explain. Why? Because they live this mindfulness and can equate it easily and naturally to their respective beliefs. And that’s the sweet stuff that we all strive for.
Slowness can be found…pretty much anywhere. And just as I strive for balance in other aspects of my life, there’s room for that balance within my “religiosity” or my “spirituality.”

In other news...In what was not a very slow fashion at all, we made our graduating babysitter a count-down chain. Like most things, the summer has gone by way too fast, and we're already, sadly, tearfully on the last link and saying good bye! We love you, Chels!

So if my family decides to join a synagogue it would be for the community and for the power of shared experiences. And I’m not down-playing that. At all. But joining won’t define our religion. We’re already slowing down and feeling, doing, believing that. Perhaps reframing what we’re looking for will make it easier for us to find it, or to let it go. Either way, it’ll be a slow process. The way that it’s meant to be.