I began seeing the image of a snail on restaurants with the words “Slow Food” when we moved to Europe. It intrigued me, so I Googled it. The Slow Food Movement began in Italy in the ‘80s as a way of saying “no” to the rise of fast food and fast life. It’s a grassroots movement that encourages living an unhurried life. They believe that simple pleasures begin at the table.
I agree. After living in Vienna, Austria, for seven years, I eat out at a much slower pace. While some people might criticize the wait staff for not being prompt when bringing the bill, there is something quite nice about not being rushed through a meal. You are left alone and given privacy. They are not trying to turn the tables. You are given time and space to enjoy your meal and your company.
There’s also something special about eating a meal that’s been made from scratch, with quality ingredients, maybe even ones that were grown in your backyard or from a local farm.
Heat the pan, then add the oil. Once that’s hot, add your diced onions. Let them sweat and begin to caramelize. Only then add minced garlic or it will burn. And now you add the ingredients for whatever you want to cook — soup, fried rice, spicy curry.
Invite people to join you. Prepare the table. Welcome them into your home. Practice hospitality. Enjoy conversation and a meal. Ask questions. Really get to know someone. This is a sacrifice of time but one that encourages an interconnectedness with others.
Slowing down can feel disruptive. Learning to drive a manual car involves much jerking. Normally when we envision shifting gears it’s to go faster. Downshifting is what many of us need.
Some people begin their year with a promise to read through the entire Bible. An overview of the story of Scripture is one way to understand God’s thread of redemption.
But what about slowing down with Scripture? What if we let God’s word marinate?
Marinades soak in for hours, even days. The flavor doesn’t remain only on the outside. It actually tenderizes the middle as well, changing the structure of the meat. It softens the connective tissue. It also prepares the meat to retain its moistness when cooked later.
I began writing Scripture a few years ago as a way to interact with the Bible in a new way. It lent itself well to meditation. I wasn’t trying to consume the Bible quickly or gain more content and knowledge.
I should probably reassure my readers that I am not claiming to write inspired words of God. Here’s the process. Get yourself a journal and a pen. Choose a section of Scripture. I started with the book of James. Then act like a scribe, copying over the text to your journal a verse or two every day. Your thoughts will likely be all over the place, but be kind to yourself. If you feel your mind wandering, just notice it and remind yourself to focus on what you’re writing. Ask God to help you to listen to his Word in a new way.
Your brain begins to think about what you’re writing. Neuroscience explains that handwritten notes are remembered better than typed ones because of this phenomena. Typing lecture notes may seem like an efficient mode of capturing what is spoken, but research shows that content recollection is improved by putting pen to paper.
I remember coming to a halt when I wrote down James 3:17. This rich description shows eight facets of wisdom:
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere (James 3:17 NLT).
When it comes to lists in Scripture, it’s easy to run through them. But by writing every single word, certain ones will jump out at you. Mercy shouted at me and stopped me in my tracks. I hadn’t connected wisdom to being full of mercy before. Mercy became a key for me in how I approached relationships. I knew that God offered me mercy in his loving kindness. But I was confronted with my need to offer mercy to people in my life.
When Scripture marks us on the inside, our character is changed. We are tenderized, ready for the heat that inevitably comes in life. Let’s start a Slow Scripture Movement.