#quiet · #ShelterunderHiswing · Running · solitude · Spirituality

Finding Quiet

I stood by my open kitchen window Thursday evening relishing the quiet. No NPR played on the radio; no sounds of television came from the den. The refrigerator didn’t hum, and the air conditioner didn’t click on.  Hurricane Zeta had come through the night before, pulling down trees and causing us to be without electricity all day. Despite the inconvenience, I found the stillness relaxing. (Thank you to NGEMC for getting us back on by 8 pm!)

My evening with no power got me to thinking about how much I fill my time with some sort of chatter — I’m usually listening to the radio, a podcast or an audiobook when I’m around my house or in the car. Some programs are spiritually oriented, some are educational, and some are for fun. There’s nothing wrong with keeping my mind active and informed, but am I spending too much time not listening to the quiet?

The last few years I’ve been working on learning to be quiet with God. It is not easy when my phone is there offering chatter 24/7.

I used to always run with music playing in my earbuds until one spring evening when I went for a run near my house after work. A little Jack Russell terrier charged out at me and a teenage girl driving to church hit and killed him. He ran right under her wheel and she never saw him. Of course she was devastated. I was too. I kept thinking that if I had not had the earbuds in I would have been more aware of the dog and kept him out of the road. What if it had been a child?

Now if I’m running by myself, I almost always leave my earbuds at home. God and I converse, and I try not to do all the talking. The same is true when I’m in my garden. I have declared it a ‘no electronics zone’ and I spend that time praying for people who come to mind and bringing up problems to God. I find that my ADD brain functions better when I am not distracted by multi-tasking.

Keith and I live in a house built in 1859, and I love to imagine what life was like for my predecessors, with no I-phone, radio, television or gramophone. As I stood in the kitchen Thursday evening, I thought about how they would have heard these sounds in the days before electricity —the hush of an autumn day coming to an end with the music of the birds and other animals settling in for the night.

I wonder if they ever got bored with the quiet. Or did their time without constant entertainment bring them closer to God?

In I Kings 19, we are told that as Elijah was fleeing from Jezebel, God told him to go up to the mountain. While he was there, a hurricane wind “ripped the mountains and shattered the rocks” but God wasn’t in the wind. God also wasn’t in the earthquake that shook the ground, or the fire that swept through. But after the fire, God was found in the “gentle and quiet whisper,” and Elijah was able to hear his voice.

What if Elijah had not heard that whisper from God because he had filled his ears with other noises?  I need the quiet to be able to hear the breathing of the Holy Spirit.

Where do you find your time to be quiet with God?

Christianity · Gardening · solitude

In the Garden

I am on spring break this week and having a ‘staycation’. I’m loving time at home to write, sleep, cook, read and relax.

Wednesday was finally gorgeous and warm, so after spending the morning working on a magazine article, I headed out to my flower garden.

It’s a mess.

I have to admit I’m a fair weather gardener. I’m not big on getting out in the cold and wet to pull weeds and it seems like all we’ve had for the last six months here in Northwest Georgia is cold and wet. My garden shows it. The daffodils have finished and the day lilies are putting out their greenery, but all my other plants are hidden under a jungle of spindly junk. Nothing to do but dig in and start pulling.

I don’t mind. I’m not in a hurry when I’m in the garden; I know that I’ll eventually get it all done.   This is my space. No one tells me how it should look or what I should plant.  I never know what it’s going to look like from year to year. It’s not terraced or spaced or landscaped. Most of the flowers and bushes are odd ones that I’ve been given or found at some out of the way place or dug up and transplanted. Some  live and some die. Some surprise me and others disappoint. A lot like people, I guess. But I love it.

I have a strict no electronics rule with myself for when I’m in the garden. In the house or car, I have music, NPR, or Audible going nonstop (I’ve even gotten in the habit of listening to Audible while brushing my teeth.) But out here, the phone stays off. The only sounds are the birds talking, a lawn mower growling down the road, my neighbor Jack putt-putting by on his tractor or the mournful sound of the train passing a mile away. Quiet, calm sounds.

This is my listening place. While I pull up the offensive weeds, God and I talk in that companionable way of old friends that don’t have to be constantly saying something. My problems and concerns, fears and uncertainties about the future, are less pressing. As friends and family come to mind, I pray for them and then turn them over to God.

When the sound clutter is gone, I’m amazed at what I hear.

We read in Isaiah:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
 But you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)   

Notice that phrase — ‘But you would have none of it.’ Even in Isaiah’s time, the Israelites didn’t want to be quiet — the passage goes on to say that they rode off on their horses.

I wonder why it’s often hard to find time for silence. What am I afraid of? That I might be bored for two minutes? That I won’t like what God might say when I’m still enough to listen? That I’ll be shown all the ways I fall short?

That’s where I’m learning to trust. Even though I’ve heard it all my life, I’m learning to truly believe that God loves me and wants what is best for me. That makes listening to Him easier.

I love this quote from the author Pearl S. Buck:

           I pray you find that quiet place inside. to renew your springs in the coming days.