Today I met a new human being face-to-face for the first time, and of course he did not look like what I thought he would look like. He is quite large and I am quite small. He also does not walk at the rapid pace I and most of my companions walk. And in asking me to slow down as we took a longer walk than he has taken in a long time, he told me that when he was living in Buloxi, on 107 degree days, you could always spot the northerners because they would be working up a sweat and getting exhausted because they rushed from place to place. Born southerners learned that the way to stay cool on a hot day was to walk slowly–to mosie (or mosey? I do not know, and it delights me just now not to look up the word!).
So I tried to mosie, with some degree of imperfect success. I liked the idea of it, though–even if I do think it is perfectly all right to be a northerner who walks rapidly on a wintry day and who craves a good workout.
Now, do you think the Rule urges more moseying, or more of a vigorous workout? There is that passage near the start of the Rule about putting all into practice with all haste, as if we are running a race. But then there are the passages about hospitality with regard to spoons and other objects, and paying attention to how much food each person needs, and these sorts of gestures require something more of the pace of moseying.
I suppose both are good in their proper place and in moderation. (But what would it mean to moderately mosey? Oddly, moseying seems as intentional as the earnest haste of which Benedict speaks.)
It is also interesting that Benedict says to practice all haste at the very start of the Rule, before one even knows what it’s all about. And don’t most of us live this way about many important decisions? We intuitively grasp a sense of direction–about a person, about a vocation, about any sort of sudden-found love–and we pursue it before we fully understand what it entails. There is no other way.
Maybe moseying is actually about proceeding with all the intentionality of haste, but in a way aware of the heat of our surroundings and the needs of our body. About moving at a pace that can be sustained in the environment just then.
I believe there’s probably a time for moseying and a time for haste. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 to every thing there is a season; and a time to every purpose under heaven. The secret seems to be in recognizing when it’s the season for slow deliberate quiet walking and when a brisker pace is required. Then there’s the even slower-than-moseying pace of walking meditation. Step, pause, step, pause. I believe all walks can bring us closer to God….we perhaps just need to listen to see which technique might best fulfill the moment’s requirement. Yes? Your friend, Kathy