Lately, I’ve been exploring words that evoke sensuality. Words like: delight, savor, luxuriate, relish, enjoy. In particular, I’ve been thinking about what it means to enjoy God, to delight in being alive, and how to relish in the goodness all around me.
We live in a manic culture of constant noise, days overflowing with activity. Even in calm moments we go to our phones for Facebook updates, twitter scrolls, instagram pictures. We have constant stimulation, sensory overload all the time, minds frenetic with activity. As a result, we’re tired and fragmented.
Words like delight, savor, relish, and luxuriate invite us to something different, don’t they? If I’m going to understand the meaning of delight, the joy of savoring the goodness all around me, and if I’m going to discover what it means to enjoy God, I have to slow down. I have to create space and room for delight, for celebration, for my soul to find rest and exhale. To let out a long sigh of relief and find a safe place to come out of hiding, free from incessant doing, and fill up once again.
This is the joy of summer. Summer is long talks on the porch, sipping red wine on the dock in the cool of the evening, slow walks on the beach where we mesh our feet into the cool sand buried underneath that upper layer of hot. Summer is shelling crabs and drinking cold beer around the picnic table. Summer is lemonade stands and camping in the backyard, walking to the city pool with your sisters and cute neighbour boys … Summer is delight.
Here are 10 ways to pause, reflect, soulfully slow down and savor your one and only life.
- Make your way to water. Be it the crashing waves of the ocean with miles of soft sandy beach, or rapid flowing rivers. Maybe you’ll find a quiet stream, or the still waters of a pond or lake. Wherever you make your way to, water heals, calms, restores. Sit beside it and meditate in silence before it. Let water teach you something new, let the teeming life underneath reveal itself to you.
- Stay up one night by yourself or maybe with a dear friend, with a lover, with a child, and count the stars one by one as they emerge in the night sky. Let the canopy of the firmament overwhelm you, let the twinkle of each star mesmerize and enchant you. Think about the magnificence of the Universe, that it’s expanding, growing, changing and the crazy reality that you are alive and in it. That your heart is beating, your soul is eternal, and this is amazing. Ponder the history of exploration and find yourself stunned by how small you are and how great and big this world is.
- Take an entire week off of every scheduled activity and say no to all organized planning. Put nothing on your calendar and let the days unfurl long and glorious before you. Be delighted in a surprise invitation to the zoo, or the park, or the beach and say yes to something you didn’t plan to do. Relish a morning in your pajamas, drinking coffee, tea, and reading your favorite novel. Let each day be a gift of surprise. Be present to it as it unwraps all around you.
- Choose one day each week to turn off your cell phone and all technology. Choose to abstain from social media and rest your mind. If you want to read the news, buy an old fashioned newspaper and read that over your morning coffee.
- Pick your favourite meal—the very one that makes your mouth water when you merely think of it, the one that makes you moan with delight. Cook the entire meal from scratch. Start to finish. Go to the farmers market and personally select the vegetables and fruit, all the special ingredients for it. Bake the bread with your own hands, pair it with some good foreign wine, and invite a handful of friends over to savor and relish in your favorite food, in good company, in a late night of stories around the table. Celebrate life with the people you appreciate, and love them with the work of your hands … with food, with new flavors, and with the joy of being alive.
- Pick a few beloved poems this summer to memorize. Mary Oliver is absolute food for the soul. Elizabeth Alexander is excellent. Maya Angelou gives hope and names our pain. Emily Dickenson is classic. Read them, meditate on them, let them move from the storehouse of your mind into the deep places of your inner being and minister to you. Poetry is truth explored in slanted ways. Give yourself permission to let the images take hold of you and help you discover new things.
- Rise early one morning, snag some coffee, and stroll out to a favorite spot to watch the sunrise. Listen to the early song birds, feel the cool gentle breeze of the morning air on your cheeks, and then sit and be still. Choose silence over words. Choose rest over measured activity and notice how the sun comes up whether you are moving or not. This world does not require your activity. You are here at this time in history and that is a blessed gift, but the sun will keep rising and setting whether you are productive today or not.
- Go berry picking. Take a ride on a ferry. Buy a hammock and lie down in it on a sunny afternoon. Sit in the cool shade of a tree and feel the tall grass as it tickles your bare legs, watch the bugs, notice the world.
- Lectio Divina is a soul-satisfying and life-enriching practice. It invites us to feast on the Word and let the words of God feast on us. It invites us into imagery and listening, into new ways of paying attention to God. Try this.
- Instead of only reading new books this summer, maybe pick one or two absolute favorite stories of your childhood to re-read. Something that you loved, that met you, made you cry, ones that made you feel less alone, that gave you delight. Read them again. I loved A Wrinkle in Time, A Ring of Endless Light, Many Waters … and I adored Anne of Green Gables. While you are reading, notice how you’ve grown and changed from when you read that story as a child, notice the woman you’ve become compared to the girl you once were, and introduce them to each other.
Let the changing of each season of your life unfurl before you and settle into the expanse of your days. Notice how nothing is as you expected it to be and yet, God is still present in it and somehow, in some crazy wild way, it all makes sense. This is your life, and you are loved.
QUESTION: SheLovelys, how do you slow down soulfully? What is your favourite practice for this time of year? Or which one of Tina’s suggestions are you going to try? Share in the comments or tag us on Instagram + Twitter with #soulfulslowdown We’d love to hear!
Tina is passionate about living deeply and authentically. Through fiction, blog posts, and creative essays, she writes about ordinary life and the way God meets us in our everyday circumstances and creatively weaves the sacred into them. She studied ministry and theology at Northwest University, most recently lived on thirty acres in Southern Chile, and finally returned to the Seattle area in June of 2015.