Last spring, I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Michigan. There were many heralded and famous writers there, but my favorite session was on writing fictional characters with an author I had not yet heard of: Shawn Smucker. So, when the conference was over, I bought his novel The Day the Angels Fell.
Over the months since then, I have picked up the book many times. Each time I am in the middle of the rush of life, running from thing to thing, and have a few minutes to read. I’ve never gotten very far in the book. This is rare, because I read a lot. But something was hindering me.
I finally figured it out. The book is too well-written. By that, I mean I couldn’t just skim through a chapter and get the fullness of the story being told like I can with most books. You see, I finally had a trip where I had to sit on a plane for over three hours. I actually had time to slow down. I don’t know about you but that takes time for me. I have a deceleration time. I can’t just choose to be slow. It takes a while for my brain to slow its frenetic shifting and lock in. But once I did, I found that I really enjoyed the book.
I think this is probably true of most art. At least good art. But the pace of our lives is so fast that we miss it. I think we often choose poor art because it’s easily digestible on the run. We listen to pop music, because it takes a while to get in the right place to take in an entire Elgar cello concerto. We tend to fast forward the YouTube video through the orchestra section to get to the “good” part. We buy CDs that only have the famous sections of a lot of different classical pieces. Okay, we don’t buy CDs anymore. We do the same with visual art. We look through Instagram, but can’t take the time to go to the museum. The last time I went to the museum, I caught myself trying to hurry through, just looking for pieces I would like and then slow down a bit for those, at least long enough to take a photo for Instagram. But I had a friend who stayed in front of one painting for an hour. I stopped by a few times and tried to let him know it was a painting of the ocean. I thought maybe he was having trouble identifying it. It turns out he was moving at the speed of art. I was rushing and missing it.
I’m realizing this may be true of a lot of my life. So, I’m planning on slowing down. Operating at a speed at which I can absorb God’s beauty and goodness in his creation and in his creatures. I’m going to plan it as soon as my schedule lets up.