A Life of Unhurried Peace

            Today’s Vintage discussion focused on the Quaker thinker, Thomas Kelley, and his thoughts on seeking “a life of unhurried serenity” in the midst of our busy lives.  Thomas Kelly was born in 1893 to a Quaker farming family. As he grew older, Thomas grew to be a great scholar and teacher, obtaining a college degree in physical sciences and a PhD in philosophy. Around this time, Thomas went through a stage of rebellion against his faith and religious institutionalism. But at age 44, he finally reconciled his commitment to science and reason with his belief in God. Personal failure and suffering over WWII led to a second conversion into what Thomas calls a “God-intoxicated life.” He led a life of devotion to God until his early death at age 47.

Today we read Thomas Kelly’s writings on the busyness and complexity of our lives and the need to slow down in the midst of it. Kelly wrote that “a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power” was “vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence.” He wrote that “the problem we face today [is this]: Our lives in a modern city grow too complex and overcrowded…and before we know it we are bowed down with burdens, crushed under committees, strained, etc…” This man also believed that we often blame our busyness and complex lives on our environment rather than realizing that the real problem lies in our inner life.

Students remarked on how anxiety and busyness are still real problems today. Our culture, especially here at UVa, values busyness so much that it can seem almost impossible to slow down.  In his writings, Thomas Kelly asks us “Do you long for Him, crave Him? Do you love His Presence?” He urges us to seek a “God-intoxicated life,” saying that “this life, this abiding peace that never fails, this serene power and unhurried conquest, inward conquest over ourselves is meant to be ours.” Students today were reminded of the importance of rest in the midst of our complex, busy lives. What God desires for all of us is to live lives filled with peace and rest in Him.

-Caroline Parsley, UVa '14