Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life
I'm way too busy for my own good sometimes. Case in point? I caught myself speed-reading BREATHE, a book about slowing down. Then I got to the end of the introduction in which author Keri Wyatt Kent writes, "I know you are busy. But please don't skim this book. Read it slowly. If you find yourself speed-reading a book on slowing down, ponder the irony of that. If you can't see the irony, you need more than this book. You need therapy."
I decided to forgo the therapy and instead slow down my WPR (words-per-minute). And it turned out to be the right move as Kent has put together an engaging, down-to-earth collection of stories and advice that just about every woman needs to read.
Kent is in the trenches herself, a writer and busy mom who admits she doesn't have it all figured out when it comes to simplicity. But she's working on it and thinks deceleration has a number of benefits --- physical, emotional, and spiritual. "I am writing this book, in part, because I want to learn to live at a saner pace. Why? Because the pace of our lives has profound implications upon the depth of our lives. I don't want to just skim the surface of life; I want to have deep and meaningful relationships with my family, my friends, God. And this I do know: you can't love in a hurry."
With her journalism background shining through, Kent talks with a number of hurried women about what drives them to be so busy. "I wondered what motivated them to be so busy and found that they were motivated by many of the same things I was," she writes. "I also talked with some women who appear to have found 'a way of life vastly richer and deeper' and I want to know how in this world they did that!"
To her credit, Kent offers the stories of women who all are at different places on the journey toward what Thomas Kelly called the "deep center of living." She's intent on showing that learning to "breathe" is a process, not a one-day project. And, as if to further reinforce the idea that you can't hurry up and slow down, she found that those women who have attained a comfortable level of simplicity have all done it in different ways. There are no formulas.
There are some common threads though, three components that make up what Kent calls Sabbath Simplicity --- slowing, simplicity, and Sabbath-keeping. "Sabbath Simplicity is not something you add to a crowded life; it's a way of life that you build by listening to God's direction. It's living from the Center in a deliberate but almost effortless way. It's choosing what to say yes to and what to say no to based not on the demands or example of others but on what God is calling you," she explains.
As with most things, this is all easier said than done, and the real take-away value of BREATHE comes from the women who share their stories. Kent is wise enough to know that it's in seeing where the rubber meets the road in their lives that we can see more clearly what something like Sabbath Simplicity would look like in our own lives.
Despite the fact that it doesn't say "mother" anywhere in the title or subtitle, BREATHE definitely is targeted right at the mom set. Which prompts my only complaint: why limit the scope of this conversation to mothers? I'm not a mother and I learned a lot from these women's lives, but I would have appreciated a few carpool-free anecdotes. Nevertheless, Kent is a talented and insightful writer, and BREATHE is a breath of fresh air.
Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel on May 1, 2005