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ACW

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Slowing Down, by Fiona Lloyd

Earlier this month, hubby and I achieved a longstanding ambition of visiting Paris together. (Those of you who read my post last month will know that this runs counter to the prevailing trend in our family.) The weather was gloriously hot, so we took a boat trip on the Seine, wandered round a local market, and generally did our best to soak up the local atmosphere (otherwise known as French beer). The place I most wanted to visit, though, was the Musee D'Orsay, famous for its collection of impressionist paintings.

The building itself was impressive, with a huge main hall containing dozens of sculptures, and several side galleries where the paintings were housed. We paid our entrance fee and looked forward to a happy couple of hours admiring works by Monet, Van Gogh and others. It always feels a little surreal standing in front of a well-known painting you've previously only seen in a book or a magazine. And the pictures were, for the most part, amazing - although one or two were frankly bizarre.

The downside of going to see the pictures in real life was that lots of other people had had the same idea. Instead of pottering around outside, basking in the sunshine, they were cluttering up the galleries, phones at the ready. Some of the paintings are so large that you could only get a proper perspective on them by standing well back...but as soon as I did this, half a dozen tourists would cluster in front of the picture, obscuring my view. What I really wanted was to sit at a distance and contemplate my particular favourites, but it seemed that most visitors preferred to go for a whistle-stop tour of the museum, snapping souvenirs on their i-phones to enjoy later.

The Welsh poet, W.H.Davies wrote in his poem, Leisure:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

He was writing about the need to stop and appreciate the beauty that is all around us, but I think his words could equally be applied to our spiritual lives (and by extension, to our writing). When I'm at work, I find myself rushing from one job to the next. Weekends are too often spent catching up on all the other things that need to be done, and sometimes spending time with God gets relegated to the bottom of the list. I tend to be a Martha rather than a Mary, prioritising busyness over sitting still.

Experience has taught me that I flourish spiritually when I make time to sit and enjoy God's presence instead of rattling off a quick shopping-list of prayers and then dashing off to the next task, but it's a lesson I need to keep re-visiting - how about you? 



Fiona Lloyd works part-time as a music teacher, and serves on the worship leading team at her local church. Fiona self-published a violin tutor book in 2013 and blogs at www.fjlloyd.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter at @FionaJLloyd. Fiona is vice-chair of ACW and is married with three grown-up children.


12 comments:

  1. I am just the same, Fiona. And yet stopping and staring is, I'm convinced, a necessary feature of the creative life. Great post. So pleased you got to Paris!

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    1. It was lovely, even if the museum was more of a challenge than expected! Now I just need to work out how to do a bit more of the stopping and staring in my normal life. Thanks for reading. xx

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  2. So true Fiona. I've very recently realised that taking time out to 'stand and stare' and to enjoy God's presence is absolutely vital for me. It's how I recharge my batteries. A few days ago I treated myself to a day out in Derbyshire. It was great after I'd got through the battle of giving myself permission to chill and simply 'be'.

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    1. What a lovely thing to do - and I'm glad you managed to chill and enjoy it. xx

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  3. The phone camera is such a nuisance. We miss out on actual experiences. I'm so conscious of this when I'm with my grandchildren; it is so tempting to pull out the phone and take a snap of them on the swings/in the garden, rather than just watch and enjoy the moment.

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    1. I got pretty irritated by it - although as you can probably tell from the second photo, I wasn't entirely guiltless in that regard...

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  4. This is something God is teaching me at the moment. I am trying to take one day a week to rest and do no work at all. Today I have been trying to do that and I find I don't know how to completely rest without doing something. It is an interesting learning experience.

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    1. That sounds so like me! Even when I am - in theory - sitting still, my mind is buzzing all over the place. Taking a day each week to rest sounds like a bit of a challenge, but I'm sure there are great benefits once you get into it. xx

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  5. Yes, indeed, trying to take life more slowly and appreciate things more. We have changed to another church recently: the irony is, having changed in order to stop 'doing things' in the Sunday service, we were pounced on today and requested to carry up the Offertory! We did it, whatever ... On Museums and Galleries: I now have resigned to looking at pictures elsewhere, ours are always packed like the one you visited, Fiona, which removes all the pleasure of contemplating the 'real thing'!

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  6. It's a bit frustrating, isn't it! Although I seem to remember the Louvre was even worse...
    Thanks for reading. xx

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  7. Great post again, Fiona. I need reminding over and over to make time just to be; it's not just nice once in a while, it's something that I think we need on a deep level. Life is exhausting and we need to stop and wonder and give ourselves space to listen. Thank you. x

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    1. Glad you found it helpful. I'm not very good at stopping, so I need to constantly remind myself! Thanks for reading. xx

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