Slow – A long journey home

Fran took part in the Unlock Walk this year. Here are some musings from her experience.

By Fran Bellingham

The service finished about 12.00.  By the time we had refreshments and various meetings, I left the church about 1.00pm.  There was a long wait for the bus to Lewisham, and then, as is typical, two busses came at once.  

I arrived in Lewisham in time to see my next bus departing.  That would mean about a 20-minute wait for the next one, so I decided to wander into the Lewisham Centre, but I knew time was tight and there was a long queue in the coffee shops, so I went back outside to catch the bus, only to see that it had already left.

Now, I am not the quickest walker, and running is a very rare occurrence.  But I managed to walk all the way from Lewisham Station to the next bus stop before the bus!  Maybe I should have taken notice of how slowly the traffic was going.  It was going to be a long journey.  Normally the 261 from Lewisham to Locksbottom takes about 45 minutes, this time it took about 2 hours!  The bus crawled up Lee High Street, stood still on the approach to Grove Park, and dawdled through Plaistow Green.

Unlike our Unlock Walk, I was unable to set the pace of public transport.  The bus was dependent on the flow of traffic which was ultra slow due to the London Marathon.  There was nothing I could do but sit it out and read my book (I always have a book in my bag).  

On the Unlock Walk, we set our own pace, stopping to take photographs, enjoying each-others’ company and the refreshments laid on by churches on the way.  It wasn’t a race, and we completed the walk in about 6 hours.

Several years’ ago, our daughter did the London Marathon, while she could run around her own neighbourhood rather than the course in London.  One thing I remember her talking about was the importance of pacesetting.  It is tempting to set off at a sprint, but then tire out quickly.  Conversely it is tempting to take the pace too slowly and then lack the impetus to change gear and speed up.  We need to remember the importance of pacing ourselves.  Some of us are quicker than others, everyone has a difference pace, and we should respect that.  

William Leith interviewed the artist Jenny Odell in the Guardian, discussing how ‘clock time’ threatens to destroy us.  We are in a constant hurry, constantly distracted and stressed, because we have become slaves to the clock.

It all reminds me of a paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm by the Japanese poet, Toki Miyanshina:

The Lord is my pacesetter, I shall not rush.

He makes me to stop and rest for quiet intervals.

He provides me with images of stillness

Which restore my serenity.

He leads me in the ways of efficiency

Through calmness of mind

And his guidance is peace.

Even though I have a great deal of things to

Accomplish this day,

I will not fret,

For his presence is here.

His timelessness,

His all-importance

Will keep me in balance.

He prepares refreshment and renewal

In the midst of my activity

By anointing my head

With the oil of tranquillity.

My cup of joyous energy overflows.

Surely harmony and effectiveness

Shall be the fruit of my hours,

For I shall walk in the pace of my Lord,

And dwell in his house forever.’


Another Japanese theologian talked about the ‘Three-Mile an Hour God’, that God doesn’t rush, but moves at walking pace, which is about three-miles and hour.  Sometimes being slow isn’t such a bad thing, we just get frustrated when we are not in control of the speed.  But then, if the bus hadn’t been so slow, I wouldn’t have read so much of my book.

Maybe it’s time to stop rushing.


Fran Bellingham

Fran Bellingham

Assistant Pastor

Fran is the Assistant Pastor at Crofton Park Baptist Church. She has a passion for sharing the Word of God and enjoys playing the guitar. Fran also enjoys baking, and long walks to burn off the calories!
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