Where Are We Going So Fast?

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

Welcome to the Well-Read Mom Blog! We are very excited to bring you a new way to connect with Well-Read Mom, and we hope you will find this a place of help and encouragement in your daily living. 

To kick off our new Blog, we’ll share a word from Well-Read Mom founder, Marcie Stokman. This letter comes from our ‘Year of the Pilgrim’ Reading Companion. If you are interested in more great information and reflections, become a Well-Read Mom member and receive your own Reading Companion!

Young Woman Reading – Ivan Olinsky (1878-1962)

“You go too fast.” Pete cautioned me, “Slow down coming into the driveway.”

“Hurry up kids,” I’d order when we’d stop at a gas station. “You have five minutes to be back in this van. Go fast!”

Once, with six kids in tow, I pulled into Dave’s Pit Stop. As the kids tumbled out, so did a bottle, a few books, and more miscellaneous clutter. “We’re going to make this fast!” As the baby wailed in the car seat, I filled the tank, conscious of the scene we were making.

In record time, we were buzzing down Highway 210. Frantically, a man passed us on the road indicating that something was wrong. I pulled over. There it was, the gas nozzle firmly lodged in the tank with 15 feet of hose dragging behind. Sigh! Too fast!

Mothers recognize a need to slow down, pause, and take joy in their children. Yet, in the midst of longing to savor life, we push the pedal to the metal and go full speed. Intentional slowdown takes vigilant discipline. It may mean putting cell phones in another room for a good part of each day to be present to the family. It may mean getting to bed earlier so the discipline to rise early, pray, and read becomes a habit (this is not always possible with small children in the home, no matter how early the hour – I get it!). It may also mean a decision to laugh every day with each child or have a cup of coffee or regular walk with one’s husband. Slowing down can be a means of taking care of our hearts.

Reading the Book – Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)

“Do I really have time to read Les Miserables and Divine Comedy?” you wonder as you leaf through this year’s Reading Companion (by the way, modified options for both are an option). What if reading these hefty books is – I hate to say it – a waste of time? But what if living in a frenetic state of busyness is the real time-waster and Dante is the gold, awakening us to the true journey of life?

Willa Cather understood this dilemma, “Men travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things.” Moving fast does not equate with an efficacious use of time. Time used in a way that wakens us from distraction and leads us to an awareness of what it is to be a human being is precious.

In Well-Read Mom, we are not together because we are experts at analyzing literature. We are together because we want to live the truth of our lives. We accompany each other so that we might, with purpose and passion, give space to the journey. A friend of mine asked her spiritual director how she should spend her time and was given this response, “If the task or activity you’re contemplating is something that can make you more of who God made you to be, give yourself permission to do it.” So test it out. Does giving yourself permission to read high-quality literature help you grow in your humanity and your capacity to see and understand yourself and others? If so, give yourself permission to read.

Life is short. Charles Peguy understood the gravity of this journey of life when he wrote, “There is only one tragedy in the end: Not to have been a saint.” It is my prayer that each woman in Well-Read Mom becomes who she is meant to be. The journey of life is not about giving space to Christ; it is about giving Him everything. As we pilgrimage together this year, may slowing down to read be a catalyst for us to know and live more fully the truth of our journey.

Marcie Stokman is the founder of Well-Read Mom. She speaks and writes to encourage women. Marcie and her husband Peter have seven children and ten grandchildren, and live in northern Minnesota where she is homeschooling their youngest daughter and teaching literature, writing, and Christian Studies as part of a local academy.