Nowadays, to linger has taken on some
additional meanings: to delay going, to depart slowly (often reluctantly,) or
even more disparagingly – to loiter with ill intent.1
So, let me reclaim the word and its soulful sense.
When we linger, we have the opportunity to slow down,
to remove ourselves for a short while from the hustle, bustle, and rush that
pervades life today. When we linger, we have the chance to reflect and
consider, without the distraction of our consumption-oriented culture.
Yet, we must be intentional about lingering. Our
culture wants us to do all but slow down. Our culture entices and coerces us
into going quickly from one thing to the next with little, or no, interlude or
respite. To remove ourselves from this merry-go-round we must be intent on
doing so. We have to make an active choice to disengage and to linger.
Slowing down and reflecting allows us much easier to
make contact with our very core selves – our soul. In doing so we discover that
our soul benefits, which in turn strengthens our intentional resolve to linger.
If we combine our lingering with doing so within
nature (in a forest glade, beside a waterfall, on a mountain top for example)
then our soul is even greater fulfilled.
Two and a half thousand years ago the esteemed Chinese
philosopher Lao Tzu noticed this saying that ‘nature does not hurry but
everything is accomplished.’ Very wise man that Chinese philosopher.2
Hence, if you find a stirring within your soul that
encourages you to slow down, sit quietly, or simply stop, then listen to that
inner voice. It is your inner tutor (in-tuition) speaking, and it knows what
1. An etymological note. Do not be tempted to think that
there is a link between the word linger and the word malinger
then be assured that they are not etymologically related. Malinger
derives from Old French and means sick, haggard, or the pretence of sickness.
2. Lao Tzu (6th century BC) is credited with
writing the Tao Te Ching and the name Laozi is an honorific often
translated as the Old Master.