I am sitting on my front porch on a particularly amazing spring day in North Carolina. Birds are singing their varied songs and there is a light breeze blowing. I am also writing these words through tears, having just watched the short film Godspeed: The Pace of Being Known (https://vimeo.com/200206468) for the fourth time.
The film tells the story of Matt Canlis, an American priest who studied in St. Andrews, Scotland. After seminary he went to work in the backwater villages of Scotland, and on day one at his first church he asked where his office was. The Rector looked at him quizzically and said, “Your office?” Matt replied, “Where do I do my work?” The Rector pointed down the road at the houses in the village, so Matt started walking. This was the first step in a journey of slowing down and taking the risk of being known as he took the time to truly know the people in the village.
Matt met Alan Torrance, a red-haired, blue-eyed Scotsman who wore a kilt daily. He was rough around the edges. He did not know Jesus when Matt met him, but they studied the Gospel of John together. One day, Alan said, “Show me a map.” Matt had never been asked this before in a Bible study, but he found a map of the lands where Jesus taught. Alan realized that the scale of the areas where Jesus lived and taught was about the same as where he lived. He recognized that Jesus had lived in villages like his where everyone not only knows you, but also knows your family and its history, too. It was through a map that this man believed in Jesus and the things he said. And Matt was reminded that Jesus had to earn people’s trust the hard way: by living in community with them and letting himself be known.
Then we meet Ethel, who died at 92 years old having never traveled outside the village of Methlick. Matt says that she was known in ways he never would be because she had lived her life in deep connection with others. A monk in the film says, “If you live in community with people, you get the benefit of seeing God’s grace at work in them.” And this takes time and intentionality.
The film refers to God as the “3 mile an hour God.” Jesus literally walked at this pace and did all of His world-changing work in a small geographical area where he spent his time getting to know people deeply.
The tears that fell as I watched were tears of longing. I long to walk at this pace and to know and be known deeply. The series of close-ups of people’s faces shown near the end of the film were reminders of the unimaginable beauty of a human face and the depth of a human soul, shaped by an infinitely deep story, and created by an eternal, unfathomable God. Oh, to experience this with those around me!
You and I will never live in Methlick, Scotland. Even Matt moved to Washington state after 13 years in Scotland. But can we slow down, even a little, to know and be known by others? Can we slow down, even a little, to know and be known by God? These birds would sing, and this breeze would blow whether I sat on this porch today or not. My family will feel and think things today whether I am curious with them or not. Our Heavenly Father will send his steadfast love and faithfulness in our direction today, whether we notice and experience it or not. But wouldn’t life be so much more exhilarating if we did?
Ben is honored to sit with men and women in the midst of the inevitable and unavoidable struggles of life. Prior to coming to Barnabas, Ben counseled at the Oviedo Counseling Clinic in Florida. He has been trained to walk with people through many types of struggles but finds himself regularly working with couples, men dealing with sexual issues, men and women dealing with interpersonal and relational struggles, and those who deal with anxiety and depression.
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