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.
I am a planner by nature and vocation. Letting things go for a whole day is not easy. I think the Lord designed the Sabbath for a reason. I am not faithful to take that day of rest each week. And it catches up sooner or later. I have a quiet time each day where I meditate, pray, and just sit in the quiet. But a whole day of this refreshes my body and mind. My spirit needed it, too.
At my little cottage house I created my boudoir, designed with a comfortable chaise and vintage forget-me-nots such as comfy pillows, a lace-paneled screen, brimmed hats, scarves, hosiery, aprons, gloves, a pearl-beaded clutch, and special evening attire. It is tucked in one corner of my husband and I’s large bedroom. I turned on the mood lights picking green to illuminate my boudoir matching the plush green outside the window this summer season. It invited me for an afternoon nap, a day of rest from my weariness. The dark memories of days from over 20 years ago fainted away. “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” ~ Psalms 116:7. The pitter-patter of the rain on the window panes serenaded me to sleep.
A week’s vacation is finally coming next week. And a retreat may be in order for this autumn. But also a sabbatical. Traditionally, this is a 1-year recess for every 7 years worked. I cannot see this happening until I retire from full-time employment. So maybe a whole month off next summer, before I move into another chapter of my life’s work?
“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.
Sad, hurt, fear, worry. Sometimes the world seems to surround you with gloom and doom that you can barely breathe. Take in a bloom or two on your walk today. Pleasing fragrance. Eye candy. Snip one to add to the bud vase on your windowsill. You don’t have your own flower garden? Buy a potted daisy or mum for the kitchen. Subtle power over the stench and ugliness of this world, even on a rainy, dark day where one bad thing after another happens. Present day. Be authentic. No airs. No plots. Be true. To yourself. Be you, the person God made you before the world taints. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Emerson. Bloom today.
Heavy dark clouds, drenching rains, lightning, and thunder dominated the weekend. Floods for some. But the light of day peeped out for a few minutes each day. The songbirds sing for joy. People come outside to pluck a weed or two in the flower bed, maybe to get a start on the many more that will appear with an eventual sunny afternoon. Neighbors take their furry friends for an afternoon stroll. The next impending rains quickly arrive before their return to shelter. Nature’s shower refreshes the soul in the midst of chaos and darkness. “He will not break off a fractured reed, and the lamp that flickers He will not extinguish until He will bring the verdict of innocence” or another version of this scripture in the book of Isaiah repeated in the gospel of Matthew, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.”
I am reminded with this church hymn this Sunday morn …
We adore Thee
God of glory
Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee
Hail Thee to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
Fill us with the light of day
~ Friedrich Schiller ~
Let your light shine. Make joy in the midst of the dark clouds. Make love besides. Love wins every time. It is contagious, and lights up this world!