For this Mission Monday post, mission candidate Jeff Sved shares the process of slowing down that he’s found challenging during formation.

Jeff’s picture of the Franciscan Monastery

If asked to describe how formation has been so far, I’d say it has been a walk in the park.

Are most of you picturing a lazy, unproductive Sunday stroll through the park with little or no effort being exerted?

Why is it that something so pleasant can be met with such disgust?

Intentionality has resonated as a theme since we began our discussions on voluntary simplicity. In particular it is striving to find that balance of work and leisure in order to realize and actualize joy in our lives. For me, my walks in the park, or monastery gardens, or around the neighborhood help me to discover that balance.

When taken intentionally they are much more than the typical Sunday stroll. Walking slowly, yet deliberately, I can appreciate my surroundings with all my senses: sight, sound, touch, smell (and taste when I happen to bring an apple with me).

In the practice of simple observation there is much to be learned, and in being open to observation I am finding my mind free to process the many lessons of each day. It has been a slowing down of sorts as I let go of the “Ready. Set. Go!” mentality that I had when I entered formation.

Throughout much of college life I rushed. I rushed, sprinting from one activity or class to the next, and without taking the time to process, much of it began to blur together. Ready? Set? are now questions that I can ask myself before proceeding instead of imperative instructions.

In my walk around the park I’m learning to trust in the slow work of God, and I’m finding these patient deliberate steps to be very worthwhile. There is more that can be seen and experienced from slowing down and absorbing it all than from rushing.

This change in mindset has been a difficult process. So, maybe formation hasn’t been “a walk in the park”.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jeff spent this past year in Wilmington, Del., with Franciscan Volunteer Ministry teaching math in a prison and teaching English to members of the Latino community. A graduate of Villanova, he is preparing for two years of mission in Bolivia.