After squeezing as much of Venice as we could out of a day and a half we were glad to get to Stresa. Stresa is a relaxing little town on the shore of Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. It was our last stop in Italy before heading into Switzerland for a week. Not a lot to do other than meander through the streets and visit a few nearby islands with magnificent gardens. So it was a good change of pace. Enough so that I started calling the town De-Stresa in my mind. De-stressing is always a good thing to do, don’t you think?
I’ve been reading a book on our trip by John Ortberg called Soul Keeping. Here is a short excerpt that has got me pondering.
“Not long after moving to Chicago, I called a wise friend to ask for some spiritual direction…. I told him about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do, I asked him, to be spiritually healthy?
“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” he said at last.
Another long pause.
“Okay, I’ve written that one down,” I told him, a little impatiently. “That’s a good one. Now what else is there?” I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.
Another long pause.
“There is nothing else,” he said. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.””
I have been trying over the last few years to practice this discipline – what Ortberg calls elsewhere the “discipline of slowing.” I really do believe that it is healthy for the soul. Here are a 10 practical things that I am finding help me “eliminate hurry” and to de-Stresa. Some of them I am better at than others.
1. Take twice as long to eat as I normally would – I used to be the first to finish, now I am usually the last.
2. Intentionally walk with an unhurried pace.
3. Drive the speed limit – I find this hard to do, especially when I am in a hurry.
4. Take some time to sit and do nothing during the day – and that includes turning the TV on.
5. Enter God’s presence and be still – I generally feel like I need to fill my time with God up with words.
6. Leave early enough to get places on time without rushing.
7. Eliminate the unnecessary – in the brief time I have left on this earth I am going to need to focus my energies on things that matter.
8. Look for a thing of beauty in God’s creation each day.
9. Take time to listen to people when they talk – instead of thinking ahead to what I will say next.
10. Ponder – God’s Word, good quotes, conversations, questions asked, eternity, life, love, and liberty.
I especially like #10. But I think most of you reading this already know that.
Next Stop: Zermatt, Switzerland