I don’t value “slow,” although once upon a time, I certainly did. As a child, I loved strolling to school along our semi-rural lane in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area hills and seeking out miniature springs burbling from the green hillsides after heavy rain.
On a day like today, where it’s been raining for several days and the saturation is just below the surface, there would’ve been an abundance of tiny geysers, like tear ducts of the earth, to ruffle with the toe of my shoe.
This morning, dutifully reciting the daily incantations for guidance and protection, and wondering what I should “ask“ for, the word “slow“ materialized in my head.
I could feel my eyebrows raise. I don’t like slow. Slow is not useful. Slow doesn’t get things done.
Ah, Spirit murmured, that’s what you think. Give us a day of slow, and let us show you how your world can be.
I’m so accustomed to moving as rapidly as I can from chore to chore, it takes tremendous concentration to turn off that automatic pilot and become aware.
Besides, what’s the point? The reason I power through chores is so that I can do something that doesn’t feel like work. Read a book, make a drawing, watch a podcast or catch up online. Relax, in other words.
The idea of being aware and moving deliberately through anything that I’d rather not be doing is so distasteful my mouth puckers as if I’d bit a lemon.
This is a tough task, Spirit. Ask me to work faster or get more done. I might resent it, but I would understand it. Is this a sneaky push toward meditation? What a trickster you are today, Spirit, taking on your Coyote guise.
Spirit—or the memory banks of my inner self—presents another childhood recollection, fanning the deck of cards from those years in Lafayette. W.B. Ellis school slots into the mental slide carousel, and I can almost smell the sappy pine trees that surrounded the trampled-grass playing field. Beneath those trees, the earth had been pulverized to a gray dust so fine it resembled the white flour my mother used to dredge the chicken before frying.
I would find a spot under a tree at lunchtime and sit crosslegged on the hard, cool soil, picking up that silky fine dust-dirt, rubbing it between my fingers, and, pinch by pinch, stowing it in the wax paper bag from my peanut butter and bologna sandwich. Into the pocket of my dress it would go and then into the maw of my classroom desk, a secret (and, to an adult mind, inexplicable) treasure.
I don’t remember much else about it. Mostly I recall the acute calmness and sense of wonder, marveling at the feel of that fine flour-like dirt against my fingertips. Was that an eight-year-old’s meditation practice? Was it connection with Earth, with Gaia? Did any of my friends ever join me in this puzzling pursuit?
There was no purpose to it, no outcome, no reason to do what I did. I simply enjoyed it in both a tactile and otherworldly way that was so intrinsic and powerful I can still remember it nearly sixty years later.
It’s that rarest and most peculiar of days, a snow day in Santa Barbara. Yesterday brought a blizzard warning, a tornado warning, and a flash flood warning. This morning, snow thickly frosts the peaks of the Santa Ynez range, and I stare for a long time out the upstairs window, not wanting to do anything but look at that magic.
Einstein said something like, you can live your life two ways. Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is a miracle.
I’d rather err on the side of the miraculous. A snow day in Santa Barbara is miraculous. The childhood freedom I had, to meander to and from school taking my own sweet time and not thinking, but being, was an unrecognized miracle.
Perhaps those are the best kinds of miracles. Simply being in what is, and fully being in it and with it, like plunging my fingers in the icy hillside runoff or sifting the flour-fine dirt under the playing field pines.
Surely it would be churlish to reject this offering of the miraculous that Spirit presents today. I’ve already slowed down into a couple of happy memories. What might burble up, as pure as those long-ago hillside springs, if I allow the slow day to manifest in its own sweet time?
The sun shines strongly now, despite the grumpy forecast of continued rain. Perhaps my slow day can include pulling a chair into the sun and breathing in that ozonated rain-fresh air. Since I always think about doing that, but rarely do, that would be a bona fide miracle indeed.