Sometimes it is everything we can do to slow down. The speedy pace of life can feel like a fast-moving current that will pick us up and carry us with it if we are not careful. The consensus around us is not not one of rest and Sabbath-taking, but one of busy schedules, marked up planners, and, at the end of some days, a soul-deep weariness.
In such a world how can we take steps toward rest, slowness, and community? Make some yogurt.
Yogurt takes a long time to make. (Here is a recipe I’ve used for making yogurt in a crockpot) You have to heat the milk (2 1/2 hours). Then you cool the milk (3 hours). Next, stir in some live-culture yogurt and let it sit until the bacteria in the live culture has turned the milk to yogurt (8 hours). In my own forays into yogurt making I’ve found you just can’t do it at high speed and the times I try to fit it into a busy schedule are the times I mess it up. I find its best to clear a day at home and tune the speed of my life to the speed of the process.
In this it acts as both a tool of slowness and a measure of it. If I want yogurt for the week I’ve got to think ahead and let it effect my schedule. I’ve got to say no to the myriad options clamoring for my attention. I’ve got to quiet the voice in my heart that tells me that I had better be productive and efficient during the day if I am to feel good about myself at the end of it.
On these days I find myself thinking of processes that can’t be accelerated without being ruined. Yogurt is one. To take another example from the kitchen, you could put bread in that category. Gardening can’t happen on the clock either. Plants grow as plants grow. Relationships and good conversations. Unhurried reflection. Redemption.
It might sound silly, but making yogurt reminds me of my human limitations, that I can’t get everything done in a single day. It also reminds me that that fact is not something bad about me, but is simply an expression of my humanity in that God did not choose to make me infinite, but finite.
At the end of the day perhaps we can make the maxim, “If you are too busy for yogurt, you are too busy.”