I awoke this bitter cold morning to a hush. Not much stirring inside or outside. Missouri broke record cold temps overnight, a whole 10 degrees this November 12. Little stirring in the neighborhood as school was called off and commuters leaving late for work. An early season snow storm set the whole area in an icy mess late yesterday. Typically I would be in the shower by now, focused on my 9-hour day ahead at the office. But I was attending the funeral of a colleague who suddenly passed 5 days ago. I prayed for a blessed day despite needing to say “goodbye” to this friend later this morn.
I was blessed with the song birds coming to the feeder this morning. Chirping and feasting. Shadows of the birds, feeder, and perches lingered in the window panes. The contrast of light and dark resembled life and death. Guess which one wins? “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces … But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Isaiah 25:8 & 1 Corinthians 15:37. The warmth of the guest bedroom lured me to a nap after the funeral this sunny afternoon. I awoke knowing my life and my death is in His hands like my friend, his wife, and his son.
Looking back, how I have changed with each year that passed. Not just with the added wrinkles, grays, pounds, aches, and pains in the natural aging process, but in each encounter with my God, His people, and creation. Our loving God uses every situation and person in our lives to shape us. At times I have been in solitude, absent of friendships due to illness, death, and the unkindness of others. There have been good and not so good people throughout my life. Even in the most difficult and dark times, God was present. He gave and continues to give me guidance on how to live life more Christ-like despite others. I trust Him. There is no secret from Him. God knows the secrets of my heart and the sins of my life. I draw on the grace of Jesus Christ with my imperfections as I pour out my heart to Him. To all women, I encourage you to do the same. And join a women’s group. Not just any group but one where you are accepted as a prized rose, and encouraged to grow. “Other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown,” the Bible tells us. Have open discussions, share holy scriptures and prayers, encourage fearlessness in fearful circumstances, and genuine friendships are planted in the garden. Avoid weedy worthless gossip, emotional games, and comparisons. No pretensions, be fully yourself. This season I have been surrounded by fearless women, and seeds are being planted in good soil. I am thankful.
Since my husband and I bought our quaint 4-room cottage in a historic small city in Missouri, many of my days have been filled with decorating thoughts. Color, pattern, texture, and space. Every niche, nook, and cranny of this less than 800 square-foot space. I am perpetually frugal, a bit of a “minimalist” is the word these days. Despite Dr. Seuss’ advice,“Fill your house with stacks of books in all the crannies and all the nooks,” I am being selective on where to create that niche, nook, and cranny and how to fill it. Although “the love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books,”(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) provides plenty of opportunity for my brain and time to distress from this too real world. Designer, Xorin Balbes offers a different use for nooks. “Creating nooks for conversation and shared activities can do wonders to bring people together. Create more intimacy at home, and you will become more intimate in the world.” Quaint times with and for others is good use of the cottage. We have the cottage listed with Airbnb for festival weekends only, and open our new space for family & friends, too.
Just the same I need time for myself. I allow every cranny of my heart emptied to be filled once again with God’s beautiful foliage. Like these cranny rocks in Cannon Beach, Oregon with a abundance of green moss and colorful blooms. And rest, a time to sleep, and just do nothing. Quiet…hearing my own breathe and the bird tweeting outside the window. “Each morning I gather strength from every nook of my soul softly inhale the aroma of nature,” Monica Bhasin says. Warmer weather sends me to the outdoors with green surroundings, but the winter season I can have that same peace and calm in the comforts of one of the living room perches, the arm chair in the guest bedroom, or even with a 10-minute break from the telephone, computer, and projects in my workplace office. The niche to wholeness no matter my environment is my heart yielded to our awesome God and His plans. All is well with my soul.
Introverts contemplate, in quietness and solitude they create and conclude. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking gives an eloquent Ted Talk on this subject. Go to https://www.quietrev.com/ted-talk/. She ends this speech for both the introvert and extrovert with “I wish you the courage to speak softly”. For myself, and many of my loved ones who are introverts, this is for you, too. The photo is my oldest granddaughter in quiet thought near the river a couple of years back. Now in her junior year with home schooling (not a senior like I wrote a few days ago). Hannah makes time for solitude, reads, writes, draws, and is creative. Introvert as it is, she or I do not need a group to follow or hang with.
As an introvert do you ever wonder whether speaking up is worth it? Arguing never gets far, but even saying a word or two seems to cause trouble. “Silence is an answer too” has some truth. But silence for too long can be misunderstood, leaves too much room for incorrect conclusions. “I will watch my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth. Mute and silent before the wicked, I refrain from good things. But my sorrow increases; my heart smolders within me. In my sighing a fire blazes up, and I break into speech,” David, the psalmist writes in Psalms 39: 2 – 4. Silence is broken, passion rises up to spoken words. For others it is the written word or an art piece.
So what does the word “silence” mean? According to the online resource https://av1611.com/kjbp/kjv-dictionary/silence.html …
SI’LENCE, n. L. silentium, from sileo, to be still.
1. In a general sense, stillness, or entire absence of sound or noise; as the silence of midnight.
2. In animals, the state of holding the peace; forbearance of speech in man, or of noise in other animals. I was dumb with silence; I held my peace, even from good. Ps 39.
3. Habitual taciturnity; opposed to loquacity.
4. Secrecy. These things were transacted in silence.
5. Stillness; calmness; quiet; cessation of rage, agitation or tumult; as the elements reduced to silence.
6. Absence of mention; oblivion, Eternal silence be their doom. And what most merits fame, in silence hid.
7. Silence, in used elliptically for let there be silence, an injunction to keep silence.
SI’LENCE, v. t.
1. To oblige to hold the peace; to restrain from noise or speaking.
2. To still; to quiet; to restrain; to appease. This would silence all further opposition. These would have silenced their scruples.
3. To stop; as, to silence complaints or clamor.
4. To still; to cause to cease firing; as, to silence guns or a battery.
5. To restrain from preaching by revoking a license to preach; as, to silence a minister of the gospel. The Rev. Thomas Hooker, of Chelmsford in Essex, was silenced for non-conformity.
6. To put an end to; to cause to cease. The question between agriculture and commerce has received a decision which has silenced the rivalships between them.
What words need to go unsaid? When does the silence need to be broken? Will I take up the courage to say it softly? Will you take up the courage to say it softly? What words do you need to share with your world in 2019?
“Cobbles rumble when a wave recedes, and thunders break the air in lightning storms. I call these noises silence …wherever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God’s speaking… the silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega,” writes author, Annie Dillard. We had a few summer storms this past week. In the night, awaken to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the window next to my bedside. Then the thunder claps and echoes in the darkness. And the silence follows. Awaken to pray. Most of the time I know who for and why. Other times I do not, and await to hear the still small voice.
My husband and I have downsized our own living space by moving into a 4-room house. Not sure if to call us “minimalists”, but having a smaller home has slowed us down. We are more focused on our relationship, and that was our intent. More quiet time, more silence than what we have lived the past 4 years while sharing our bigger home with my daughter and her family. No pets in our new space either, we enjoy the neighbors’ pets during our walks. Just the Mr. and I, simple or elaborate meals prepared in-house depending on the mood, less eating out. Projects and chores or snuggling on a love seat watching a classic movie. And the silence. “Slow living … opens up the prospect of slow love, the most sustaining sort of love … a love that comes of unhurried and focused attention to the simplest things, available to all of us, at any time, should we choose to engage: family, friendship, food, music, art, books, our bodies, our minds, our souls, and the life that blooms and buzzes all around us … slow love comes out of the quiet hours, out of learning from the silence that is always there when we want it,” writes Dominique Browning, former editor of a major design/decor publication.
We all need the silence.