A friend and I were chatting the other day at the park while our boys happily kicked a soccer ball around the field. Lockdown restrictions had just eased and I couldn’t stop smiling, so glad to see our kids finally be able to play together, so happy to be in the company of friends. I tell her how my youngest, who is almost six, is like a bump on a log at home. “He spends so much time just laying on the couch sucking his thumb!” “Maybe he needs it,” she says after a pause, “Just like you do.” She’s referring to my need for quiet and solitude as an introvert, as someone who can be over-stimulated quite easily. My friend understands this because she is the same way.
I think about her comment and feel a pang of guilt. I have always been a proponent for “non-doing”, but I hadn’t been practicing it lately. The boys had been learning from home for the past few weeks and I was occupied with their needs. Finding moments of stillness were difficult. But it wasn’t impossible, I was just being controlled by the feeling that I should be doing something. Even if it were just picking up a book to read. Why did I feel the need to fill every minute with something?
My friend shares with me how she makes time for this pause even with both of her boys at home — that morning she had spent a few minutes on her back deck with her tea, while the kids were occupied inside, and she just sat beside her budding vegetable garden, sipping and staring.
Ahhh. The way she described that moment sounded like absolute bliss to me. So simple, so rare. How hard it is for us to stop!
My husband has seeded our front lawn and I catch him every now and then staring out the living room window at the soil. I want to poke fun of him, You know, that grass isn’t growing to grow any faster just by looking at it, but I hold my tongue. Because I think deeper down I am bothered at his ability to just stare. He is okay with stopping once in a while, letting things simmer, letting his body just be.
I want more of that for myself. More staring into the sky, gazing at the trees, listening to the birds. Not trying to make anything out of the moment, and not running away from the silence. Just allowing myself to exist.
This is sacred space even if boredom creeps in, or the fear that we’re not doing enough. This is space for our souls to breathe, maybe even speak. As Eugene Peterson has written, “We stop, whether by choice or through circumstance, so that we can be alert and attentive and receptive to what God is doing in and for us, in and for others, on the way. We wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies.”
In the pause we remember that God is with us, wanting always to reveal Himself to us and to remind us who we are.
Be still, and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10