My pastor Chris spoke yesterday on slowing down as a spiritual practice for Lent.  It reminded me of my Great Uncle Solanus Casey who lived in a way that reflected what spiritual writer Evelyn Underhill referred to as the “leisure of eternity.” I aspire to follow my great uncle’s example, but I am easily distracted, often rush, and don’t like driving in the slow lane–despite knowing it is good for me.

My Great Uncle Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM

Solanus Casey, a Capuchin priest who died in 1957,  is the first American born male declared “Venerable”by the Catholic Church–the first of three steps to canonization which confirms official declaration of sainthood.

When Solanus died in 1957, over 20,000 attended his funeral mass in Detroit where much of his ministry took place. In addition to an extensive ministry of prayer and counsel to people with physical, emotional and spiritual ailments, during the depression he helped start a soup kitchen which continues to serve the hungry today.

In spite of a potentially exhausting schedule–sometimes working up to eighteen hours a day–he never exhibited impatience, even when occasions warranted it. People said he was never in a hurry but lived in what he referred to as “faithfulness to the present moment” with himself and others.

At the height of his ministry of prayer and spiritual counsel, people would patiently wait for hours to meet with Solanus.  Apparently, he wasn’t distracted by the dozens of people waiting, but offered his undivided attention to whomever he was sitting with. His patient presence spread to those waiting  who reported that it was easier to wait knowing they too would receive his full attention.

The image of Solanus in his simple brown robe and glasses, praying with hurting people, feeding the hungry, consoling the suffering, never in a hurry, inspires me to practice being faithful to the present moment like he did. Specifically, at least for the rest of Lent, that means no attempts at multitasking (it’s really neurologically impossible despite my fantasy that it works), no listening to media or phone calls while driving. That last one will be especially challenging. But a recent dinner conversation with a friend whose nephew was killed in a car crash due to distracted driving keeps coming to mind every time I get on my phone.

How about you?

Where in your life do you go so fast that you aren’t fully present with yourself and others?

What would slowing down and living with the leisure of eternity look like in your life?

What one small change could you make to practice being fully present?