Meet Michelle. Oh, I'm sure you've seen her around the blog world, but if not, you are so in for a treat! Michelle speaks from her heart, shares her struggles, and lives out her faith in such an authentic way. Here she is...
I often daydream about indulging in a week-long silent retreat at a monastery. The thought of sitting alone in a tiny cell with a book and a window, or walking through lush, quiet grounds in early morning appeals to me.
I also frequently entertain a “someday” vision that includes an adobe bungalow in New Mexico, surrounded by fragrant lavender and unusual cacti, with a wrought-iron patio table balanced on flagstone, atop of which sits a sweating pitcher of iced tea and a paperback novel.
My husband once asked, “So am I anywhere in this someday vision?”
“Yeah, you’re there. Quietly there,” I answered.
Both visions include a lot of quiet and a lot of doing nothing. And the reason I’m pining for quiet nothingness? Because I don’t have any of that right now.
I’ve done the math. In a typical 16-hour day (rising at 6:00 a.m., going to bed at 10:00 p.m.), I enjoy a half-hour of quiet each day – that is, if I get up early enough to sneak downstairs before the kids awaken.
This is “do-nothing” quiet – time for either reading the Bible or sitting. Not writing, not working, not socializing, not tweeting, not emailing. Just sitting.
A half-hour in sixteen.
It’s no wonder that I find myself praying more and more for rest these days.
The monastery retreat and the New Mexican adobe house are obviously out of the question right now, so I’m doing the next best thing: I’m spending 12 weeks doing a contemplative study in my own backyard, using L.L. Barkat’s book God in the Yard as my guide. I sit outside for at least 15 minutes every day, usually in the morning, and do nothing but absorb the natural surroundings and drift.
The problem with the study is that it’s making me crave more quiet time. Fifteen minutes isn’t nearly enough, yet I don’t know how to carve out additional pockets of peace in my day. With a part-time job, two children, a husband, a home, errands to run, laundry to fold, rugs to vacuum and a burgeoning writing career to consider, I don’t have a lot of wiggle room.
What I’m learning though, is that those pockets of quiet do exist – I simply need to snatch them up and use them wisely instead of letting them pass by, or worse, filling them with detritus – like extra cell phone calls or texts or tweets or emails. For example, I usually have 10 minutes or so between when I arrive at school and when I walk up the sidewalk to retrieve my kids. Usually I make a phone call, or walk toward the doors early to chat with the other moms. But what if, instead, I sat in the mini-van with the radio off and the cell phone on mute and just stared out the window?
I suspect I have more of these random pockets of time available here and there throughout my day. The trick is, I simply need to look for them, and when I uncover them, embrace the quiet they hold rather than rush to fill it. The monastery retreat or the Mexican adobe may be in my future someday, but for now, I will snatch bits of solace wherever and whenever I can.
What about you? How do you carve out quiet in your hectic day?Want to get to know Michelle even better? Click here to bounce over to her blog, Graceful, and subscribe to and/or follow her posts.