Nearing the end of the book, How to Inhabit Time by James K. A. Smith, I’m moved by a passage Smith includes from Winn Collier’s biography of Eugene Peterson, A Burning in My Bones. On pages 168-169, Smith writes, “Collier recalls a pivotal moment in Peterson’s life, on the edge of burnout and despair, when he realized he was living as if everything depended on him—as if they were all waitin’ on him. He expressed the longing to be ‘unhurried,’ and once unbottled, the words spilled out as he admitted to the church council:
‘I want to be a pastor who prays. I want to be reflective and responsive and relaxed in the presence of God so that I can be reflective and responsive and relaxed in your presence. I can’t do that on the run. It takes a lot of time. . . . It demands detachment and perspective. I can’t do this just by trying harder. I want to be a pastor who has the time to be with you in leisurely, unhurried conversations so that I can understand and be a companion with you.’”
Seems to me that in Eugene Peterson’s words, we can also find the promised treasure of what it means to be a human being.
Smith continues, “The rest of the story is about the long, arduous work of becoming that sort of unhurried person. I experienced this like a smack in the face and yet also like a stained-glass portrait of a way of being I long for. To be unhurried is a tangible discipline of hope.” (p. 169)
James K. A. Smith will be one of the plenary speakers at Valparaiso’s ILS gathering on April 17-19, 2023. As I reread his book to prepare for the gathering, I am partnering passages with the gold bits in my paintings. Here’s info about the gathering – https://www.valpo.edu/institute-of-liturgical-studies/theme/.