After an especially stressful day of work at the hospital, I often find myself postponing my return to our home in town and driving out into the country.
Will and I have forty acres of land in the beautiful Gyp Hills a few miles outside town. On our land bordered by hills and a tree-lined creek lies a partially built house, a pasture with grazing cows and horses, and a beehive nestled in a clump of cedars.
I take a deep breath as I unlatch the gate, watching the setting sun slant over the pasture and hearing the insects buzz their summer songs. I feel the breeze against my face and with it comes peace.
For me, silence brings peace.
Sometimes I resist silence, especially if it threatens to overshadow something I love to do. I want to write, but silence pushes it away and I feel a sense of failure. I want to have friends over or engage with various groups on social media. I want to contribute my thoughts and questions. But sometimes the time for speaking is not mine.
I am learning to value the necessity of periodic silence. My first major lesson in seeing silence as a gift happened some years ago when I abruptly quit writing. Before that, as long as I could remember, I had written things, filling dog-eared journals and scribbling on scraps of paper and joining writers’ groups. I took college courses on writing while still in highschool. Writing was part of life and breath, a way this deaf girl could easily communicate. But suddenly the ability to write was gone.
For about five years I didn’t write. Life went on, I had babies and chased overactive toddlers and read prolifically in my spare time, aware of the seismic shift happening under the surface but unable to talk about it.
One day, I started to write again, and this blog was born.
I now believe that silence is necessary for transformation. That’s why Moses spent 40 years in the desert, and why Jesus fasted in the wilderness. When I’m too busy making noise, whether it’s teaching, writing, or engaging on social media, I lack spiritual senses which are sharpened by loneliness. I’m too busy to listen to the lessons that emptiness and longing want to teach me. I glibly talk about the world and don’t see the caverns in my own soul.
I’m learning that certain treasures of God can only be found through silence.
This past year has again been a period of silence for me. Through it I’ve been seeing how little the big things matter, and how much the small things do. Sometimes reading a story to my toddler is far more spiritual than engaging in an intellectual discussion or Facebook debate.
The people I interact with every day–those are the ones who are the most important. I can be a kind, wonderful person in public and still have utterly failed if my family doesn’t feel daily love and care from me. As much as I’m glad for multiple ways to keep in touch with friends across the globe, I can’t know and experience them in the same way that I know and experience my husband, my children, my neighbors, my coworkers, and my patients.
Embracing silence is much harder for me if I feel communication has dropped between me and God. However, I’m slowly discovering that a friendship with God is about much more than words and feelings. Sometimes God wants me to be still in His presence. And He can also enjoy my presence without me constantly talking to Him. A relationship with God consists of many times of simply being together, resting in our shared love.
That’s what I feel these days when I escape to our ranch after work. I’m too exhausted to think or talk. I feel drained in every way by the demands of work, mothering, marriage, neighboring, housekeeping, and homeschooling. But for a few minutes I sit on the grass, in my scrubs, and watch pollen-laden bees fly back into their hive.
I feel content in the silence, knowing that it is a gift.
What have you learned through times of silence?