Second Thoughts on “Speed”

"Speed" – I’ve been thinking about speed lately. In a lot of discussions on making choices and making judgments, it’s reduced to limited options of whether one should or shouldn’t choose, can we or must we judge.  But perhaps, it’s more about speed than anything else.

The fact is it’s impossible to live life without making choices.  We make judgments whether we like it or not.  Sometimes, the way we act is birthed out of sincerity combined with some wisdom, others times we’re plain prejudice and wrongheaded.  Upon deeper reflection our troubles often spring from allowing our judgments for example to leap forward a little too quickly. 

Too fast, before we step back a little and get a better picture, which to me means a fuller picture.  Not perfect, not one with every single detail sorted out.  It’s a picture which will be subject to revision or at least fine-tuning. This "slow to anger" business an ancient author reminded a bunch of fast shooting church members of old has good sense in it. 

"Quick to listen" was what James was advocating. Slow down judgment but speed up the understanding. Simple. But it’s hard.  Because there’s so much within us. Experience, reading, insights, lessons, tons of "wisdom" which is often waiting to ooze out and fix the "problem" before us.

Being "slow to anger" and "quick to listen" to me involves emptying oneself at least for the moment.  It involves creating space for the "other" to simply be … for a moment. Our role is more as a companion to walk alongside those who are genuinely seeking to make sense of life in all it’s complexities. This act of "kenosis" – i.e. the emptying of ourselves, or by implication the restraint of limiting our "power" doesn’t mean we jump into the mud of these complexities uncritically, but it does give "getting our hands" dirty a fresh twist.

When one is in the midst of this process, we will need to confront the insecurity and uncertainty it brings.  But we don’t have to be afraid, especially when our faith is in the One who holds on to us (somehow and in some way!). Our experience on earth however at times borders hell-like, we don’t need to die before we step into "purgatory", the intensity of limping through our daily hours might purge us enough.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? It might not feel that way at first, but the struggle hints that there is.  And gradually, the hints become a real hope.  But this too cannot be hurried.

I got a phone call the other night.  A little surprised but delighted. Surprised because it was totally unexpected and really out of the blue.  Delighted because it become another "ceremony of closure" on an episode of "emptying" on my end during a period where I sincerely rolled into the mud of some serious pain and hurts of "others". Again, it’s often in hindsight we are able to make some sense into these matters.

1 month, 1 year, is too short to really have a fresh look. 5 to 10 works a little better. That’s too slow?  But then I’m still talking about speed right?

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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