ISSUE 16 // OCTOBER 2022

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. SLOW .

I used to think we could choose to live more slowly, but I think it's more accurate to say that slow chooses us. Whether we like it or not, our lives are like beads on a thread, seasons that start and end and drag on and unravel from us often at a pace we'd like to alter, but can't. 

There's a beautiful prayer by Teilhard de Chardin about facing the natural confines of our lives. I read for the first time while I was in the bathroom at a friend's house some 12 years ago - where she had stuck a copy on the wall just above the toilet paper. I suspect she knew that was exactly the right place to think about slow seasons and mull over unknowns. The words still claw at my heart and I repeat them often, knowing them to be true and wise:

"Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress,
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability,
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on as though
you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances 
acting on your own good)
will will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you and accept the anxiety
of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete."


My life follows a predictable pattern - that when I am busy and overwhelmed and run off my feet, I long to be slow and unhurried. And then when I am impatient for progress and momentum, for solid decisions and surges of energy, I am stifled, stilted, left to wait and sit with uncertainty. I want slow seasons when I am not in them, and can hardly wait for them to be over when I am in them. 

Yet Teilhard reminds us to trust. To trust the slow. To trust the slow work of God. That however much we want to be in a different season to the one we find ourselves, we can not skip or hurry them along. We cannot speed up or stop growth, but we can embrace it's unique pace. Waiting is slow. Breastfeeding a baby through the night is slow. Maturing a meaningful relationship is slow. Parenting a small human with love and boundaries is slow. Knitting sleeves for a man's sweater is slow. Writing a well researched essay is slow. Reading a book of poetry is slow. Noticing changes in nature is slow. Growing faith is slow. Living is slow. 

Do you feel the growing disconnect between our real time slow lives and our speedy online ones? Between the mundane and ordinary spaces of privacy and home, and the instantly distracting, infinite scrolling, skimming, clicking of our smart phones. My ongoing dilemma with sharing online is how neatly and swiftly we can reduce a moment - an experience - a meal - a child - a process - an important conversation - into a few consumable seconds. You are reading my words and seeing my photographs, maybe even skimming them, so much faster than it took me to ponder them, type them out, capture them, edit and re-read them. 

Slow is not a hashtag. It is not evidence of a beautifully finished project or a trend to try on. Slow is the shape of being human with real limits, with need of sanctuary and privacy. Slow is the freedom to try and fail and want and disappoint in real time - to not have the words or proof of the attempts, but to know just being alive every day is an act of slow work. 

Faith is growing trust, hope and love. And it's painfully, beautifully slow. 

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. To CoNTEMPLATE .

Read "Time to be slow" by John O'Donohue:

“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.‚ÄĚ


- From "To bless the space between us: a book of blessings"

Explore the wild, natural world around you. Take a walk around your backyard, along the path of a nearby park or the track of a bush reserve. What do you see, smell, hear, feel and taste there? Let the slow patterns of nature nurture and refresh your senses. 
‚Äč
Contemplate these verses:
"I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope." 
Psalm 130:5

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.‚Ä̬†John 3:8

"For everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;  
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace."
 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

. from the recipe book .

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Banana Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Icing
A cake for those squishy, overly ripe bananas, and gluten free of course. 

You will need:
- 2 ripe bananas (preferably covered in black spots and soft to touch) 
‚Äč- 125g salted¬†butter,¬†softened
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil 
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 tsp each ground cinnamon and nutmeg 

- 2 cups self-raising gluten free plain flour
(OR a combination of 1 cup rice flour + 1 cup tapioca flour with 4 teaspoons GF baking powder OR 2 cups almond meal with 4 teaspoons baking powder)

For the icing:
- 200g cream cheese at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons runny honey
- zest of 1 lemon OR tsp of vanilla bean essence

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 190'c. In a food processor or mixer, blend together bananas, butter and sugar until well combined. Blend in eggs and olive oil. Finally add flour and spice. Pour batter into a paper lined or greased 22cm spring-form tin or another of your choosing. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in tin. 

Once the cake is cool you can make your icing. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly drizzle in honey and beat well to combine. Add lemon zest or vanilla bean essence. Spread icing generously over the cake - you can also cut the cake in half and ice the centre as well as the room.

Adorn cake with edible flowers and leaves from your garden. We have used calendula, mint, rosemary and violets... 

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30/3/2017

ode to slow
is not so much the speed
as the mind and heart moving in sync -

and sometimes its a brisk pace
of farm chores, jobs to be done,
a juggle and a tussle of needs and wants
and hats and bananas and clean nappies -
laundry hung to dry, eggs to be packed,

or the steady pace of a toddler who stoops low
to notice a small beetle scuttle across the floor
or in the grey of the morning
the flapping arms and open smile
of a babe, just awakened -
ahhh, in the carefully savoured sips of hot tea,
and the smell of verbena leaves crushed,

or the time we woke up earlier than usual,
and finding ourselves with time aplenty to
draw after breakfast, he working on squids
and me on a sketchy hen -
how good it felt to my weary eyes,
to see that old friend, familiar blue!

a tuning in
on car rides to school;
confessions of a five year old,
questions asked, ideas posed -
"how many days will you be alive mama?"
or to a well-written book propped open on a pillow
while breastfeeding in bed
(instead of scrolling on my phone)
to shed a tear for the beauty of the afternoon sun
against the kitchen wall,

and tuning out
to the inner-critic who
so easily finds fault, or worries,
to the temptation to keep scrolling
on social media, and to all the cheap news and fluff,

is choosing to live with less,
or make do, mend a thing,
borrow, go without even,
taking time, when we can, to do just one thing -

is being rooted
unquestionably
in belief, in the
treasures of the heart;
gentleness, compassion, love,
grace, celebration

is being exactly where I am at this moment,
contented.

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Missed issue 15? Click here to read