The other evening I walked outside after the kids were in bed so that I could water our garden. I wasn't thinking of anything else, besides getting finished with my job, as I walked over to turn on the hose. I was looking forward to getting back inside so I could find something to watch on TV. That's when I looked over and realized that I was being watched.
Yup. A big buck mule deer with velvet antlers was laying in the alley right up against the neighbor's fence, chewing his cud. He's a city deer and as such he wasn't too concerned about my presence. So I slowed down. I watched him for a few minutes. He eventually stood and stretched out his legs then began moving on, so I turned around and went back about my business.
But this time I was quieter.
I heard... bugs singing their evening song, dogs barking, a loud pick-up truck and the faint sounds of the night rodeo.
I felt... a cool, gentle breeze.
I saw... far-off clouds dropping rain showers, a bird returning to his nest for the night and the last remains of the evening's sunset disappearing over the mountains.
Peace and quiet... not something I get a lot of during the average day. With four kids, a husband and a couple of dogs to share my days with it can get rather noisy at times.
Anyway. Peace and quiet. It's kind of amazing how quickly some peace and quiet can overcome the busyness and make you become reflective. As I stood there watching the water from the hose drip off of the leaves of the garden plants I started thinking.
There's a real lack of peace and quiet today. In our country, and I guess the world in general as well. And I get it. People are looking for an escape and it's super easy to find one. The vast expanse of the internet is only as far away as the phone in our pocket. There is no waiting. With one touch our mind can be whisked away by, well, whatever we want. I know that for me personally it is hard to resist the temptation to type up the news, or a blog, or social media – something to read about – when I feel like I need to get a mental break from the responsibilities of taking care of the kids and keeping up with the housework, etc. It doesn't provide the peace and quiet that I'm looking for, though. The problem is that all it really does is steal my time. It steals my time away from the things that I need to be doing, and it steals my time away from my family. And it doesn't make me feel more relaxed - it just gives me enough of a distraction to leave me wanting more. More does not satisfy what I am looking for. It does, however, make me addicted to the pursuit of it.
In contrast, when I finished watering the garden and I went and sat down on the deck outside our back door and listened to the stillness, and felt the breeze, and looked at the sky and the trees and the mountains... I could feel the layers of tension being peeled back. I could feel the peace overwhelming my soul. I thought about God. And I wondered how anyone could sit in His creation and deny His very existence. I went back inside feeling refreshed... And I knew something... it is time for me to make a change. It's not that I am neglecting my family or my responsibilities, it's just that I'm too often making a priority of my “need” to be plugged in and distracted from the pile of laundry I should be folding. I'd had a wonderful afternoon and evening with the kids that day. We had worked on some projects together. We laughed. We enjoyed a homemade supper which we ate in the family room while we watched a cute little movie. My phone had been on the charger, and I didn't look at it once.
Sometimes I think it would be great to go back to the time (which wasn't that long ago) when phones were attached to the wall and simply used for calling people! But the truth is, although that would remove something that is a major distraction for me these days, I would probably just find something else to fill its place. The fact that it is so easy to plug in and disconnect from life is really only part of the issue. It is more an issue of the heart. Do I sometimes feel that I need a permanent break from responsibility? Am I longing for the carefree summertime-type days of childhood when the biggest decision I had to make was what flavor of ice cream I wanted on my waffle cone? The answer is YES! Most days I just want the dirty dishes and the dirty laundry and the toys on the floor to go away with no effort on my part! It's not enough that the dishwasher and the washing machine and (occasionally) the kiddos do those tasks for me. I want them to disappear completely because they are so mundane and boring. (Am I embarrassing myself with these admissions? Probably so...) I want to play and have fun all day long! And why shouldn't I?
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” - 1 Corinthians 13: 11 (NLT)
Maybe I'm just speaking for myself here. Maybe I'm not speaking for you at all. (Or maybe I am.) The thing is... there's a reason we grow up. We can't stay children forever. Our bodies have no choice but to change and grow into maturity. Our minds, attitudes and actions... those we have some more control over. We must, as Paul says, “put away childish things” (and he's not referring to our sippy cups).
A little peace and quiet one evening – and I let it go to my head! I'm reconsidering my daily routine... should you?
There. I've said my piece. If you've gotten this far, you've read it. Now get off the computer. :) I'm gonna go fold some laundry.