Practicing Silence

“Sometimes we need silence.  Not always, but definitely sometimes.  If we will comply, if we will receive the moments of quiet contemplation and rest, we might be surprised by what emerges.  As much as I didn’t want to engage in the art of shutting up, the solitude offered me gifts I had never, ever received.  …

“Like a desert windstorm, life is often unruly — wild, fierce, and howling.  By choosing the stiller and smaller world of voice rest and life rest and mind rest and body rest, I somehow chose the stiller, smaller voice of God.” [Leeana Tankersley, Found Art, pg. 58]

Reading these words last night sparked an image of a future me, flashed upon the deepest places of my heart.  It stirred within me something profound — full of wonder and sadness.  It’s difficult to hold seemingly opposing emotions in the palms of upturned hands; it leaves me stranded, sometimes, without hands to dig or reach or overturn.

Pondering Leeana’s words made me shifty and unsettled, in part because the silence I think of is not a “day-at-the-spa” invited silence.  It’s the uninvited kind that invades me.  I thought about what my life will be like in two short years, after doors close and school buses chug past, picking up my children and packing away their unscheduled, snuggly, lazy days with mommy.

I tried to imagine the inevitable future silence of our home.  Clocks clicking.  Dishwasher swishing.  Laundry churning.  Dog scratching.  And me: alone.

It isn’t the “silence” itself that frightens me.  Or, as the author of Found Art alludes to, the scary reintroduction of yourself to yourself, although I will need a hefty reintroduction to be sure.

It’s the slow slipping away of these days.  These very present days–which, of course, will lead to silent ones spread out like an icy mantle: slippery and unfamiliar, forcing me to walking with unsteady feet.  It’s the acidic, stinging feeling that I’m losing them–that I’m losing my kids.

And I know that’s not really true–in fact, many days I celebrate our freedom to run around without diapers and bottles and cumbersome car seats.

Yet their smallness is going away.

Their fingers are losing those squishy dimples.

My son listens to ESPN radio and wants “cool” clothes from the mall.

My daughter is growing like a weed and can barely fold herself up enough to fit on my lap.

And my youngest…I just noticed today how he surpassed a bulletin board at our library.  He wants “spiky” hair and a “gas-powered dirt bike.”

The silence I’m pushing against is the uninvited kind that erupts from the slow stream of hours and days and years.  A time to come when kids are busy with friends and sports and social lives that don’t include me.  When I’m at home –in silence– pleading with the walls to give me back the sound of laughter from tiny voices.

I’m not ready to lose all those tender moments yet.  I’m not ready to give up on snuggles and kisses and tickle fights.

I’m not ready for that kind of silence.

Not yet.


PS:  My “official” review of Leeana’s book is on the way, courtesy of The Blog Tour Spot and Zondervan Publishers.

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This entry was posted in Chores/Duties/Jobs, CRAZY kids, Discipline Issues, Faith, Following Jesus, Gifts, God, gratitude, Growing Pains, Literature/Books, Matters of the Heart, Motherhood/Mommy Duties, Nature/Outdoors, Seasons of Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Practicing Silence

  1. Jennifer says:

    The silence that un-nerves me is (in addition to what you listed above) is the silence that follows someone announcing bad news- a death, a serious illness, a national tragedy. It is the kind of silence where you can feel the sickness in the pit of your stomach and your emotions seem to be 10 times more acute than normal. And if you are with other people at that time, you can almost hear their hurt through the silence. On the afternoon of 911, I stepped outside and ran into a silence like I have never heard before: the skies were silent from the lack of airline traffic, the air was silent since there was almost no one driving on the road, the wind was silent and even the clouds stayed away. It was like everything had stopped and I was left alone with nothing but my thoughts and the knot in my stomach.

  2. Mary DY says:

    Savor the moments!! We love those grown-up boys of ours and that we have launched them. That is the goal, after all, that they become solid, happy, independent people…but we do miss hanging around with them. We love whenever we do get the chance.

    A couple years ago, S redid our OLD home videos, digitizing as best he could. The most amazing part to me was forgetting their voices. We have lots of pics around, so remembering what they looked like is easy…but the voices!!!!

    Hugs to J, A and M. Sadly they probably don’t remember me any more. Too far in their past.

  3. ~love says:

    my goodness. i’m not ready either.

    i’m re-doing some things on my blog and was going through an old post for pictures and splices of my words. your comment was there about when we first started our adoption journey. thanks again for your support and kind words!

    • heartscape says:

      I think of you often as I wear my Mother Theresa T-shirt or my colorful beads. So thankful for all the ways God has provided for your family! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. smalltownsmalltimes says:

    The silence is good some days. You can relax in knowing you’ve done well with “Phase one”. Besides, if it gets too quiet, you grab your purse and head on over to see ‘Mark – whenever you want. That will be nice, yes?

    • heartscape says:

      Ah, yes…’Mark 🙂 You’re right–it is good to be done with “Phase One”. I’m learning to rest in the fact that I’m doing my best [usually] and that this slow letting go is just…slow. And still hard for me.

  5. Leeana says:

    Yes, the silence is a blessing and a curse indeed. Thank you for this important reminder to embrace today. I find myself anxious to get past the baby stage sometimes, knowing that freedom is ahead. But you are so right. With every gain, there is a loss. Today has so much for me. Twenty chubby fingers reaching out for me. How sad it will be when they are reaching for other things. Thank you!

    • heartscape says:

      Leeana, I often felt *so* eager to flee the baby stage, mostly because my husband was so busy with his career and schooling and I was left to manage on my own more than I wanted. That said, now that I’m on the other side of the mountain, I feel like clawing my way back up the slope to get one last look at the place where I started. I never expected to feel so emptied out and sad at the slow growing up of my kids. Enjoy those fingers and toes! …And thanks for reading!

  6. Pingback: A Lovely and Thankful Wreck « Admissions of a Suburban Philosopher

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