Here, Where It's Quiet
(an excerpt from my journal- I decided to share it because I think a lot of you can relate. If it resonates with you, I encourage you to join me on this journey of pruning away the heavy pressure, the voices, the expectations that we were never meant to carry)
Disconnecting from the constant clamor of ever streaming noise is initially an astoundingly loud endeavor. It's been almost 24 hours since arriving at a little cabin in the woods, just the four of us. No other voices to be heard, considered, checked or responded to. It's been beautiful.
There is no internet, radio, TV, or cell phone service here. There's a fire pit, a wood burning stove, simple furnishings, and lots of green. I built a fire for maybe the second time in my life, allowing my husband to actually show me something for a change while being willing to learn, instead of being in a rush and letting him do it because it was more efficient. I made it my chore to be in charge of that fire for the rest of the day. It was empowering.
I've enjoyed the crisp fall air that makes it plausible to enjoy the toasty inside. The simplicity of just us - me, my husband and our sweet kiddos, ages 4 and 2 (and growing faster than I can keep up with), is refreshing.
The weight of the pressure of keeping up with things slowly falls away here, where it's quiet. No texts to interrupt, no emails to demand, and no ability to check my shop feels a bit like a relief. Have I had the urge to check? To keep up? To google something? You bet. But that tick has been quietly fading and it's been really, really helpful to be in a place where the phone actually just won't work.
Simple food cooked on the fire - veggies and meat - make me want to return to the simple ways of cooking good and basic foods.
I have a desire to move slower, to be nearer to the earth from which we came. I'm thinking about my habits and how far away we tend to live from the earth.
Hiking together on paths that we can sometimes just barely make out, following the way of many who've gone before us through the beauty of these woods, treading over soft moss and crunchy colorful leaves underfoot, it is quiet. It's restful. It's like a glass of cool water to my parched soul.
Here, where it's quiet..my children regain my attention. I remember my husband's voice and listen to his words again, not taking him for granted. These privileges now feel as such again, instead of one more overwhelming task that requires my waning energy. With the outside voices quiet, I can hear theirs so much better.
The scaffolding of the distractions and busyness fall away - at first leaving me feeling a little exposed - yet I adapt and recognize that I like this better. It feels healthy. I remember what it used to be like before we got a bit lost in our adult world of never ending to do's, texts and emails to respond to, diapers to change, and house repairs to keep on top of.
To quote Amanda Cook "Some things you can't know till you're still. In the silence where your spinning thoughts slow down. In the stillness things have a way of working out."
There's so much goodness there. In that quote. In the stillness. In just being instead of achieving sometimes. In being still instead of moving sometimes. The funny thing? I thought I was practicing these things. That's my mantra, people! This is Beholden Life, after all! I regularly quote to myself "be still and know that I am God.” I seek out the moments of stillness in the day I can scrape up to enjoy. Or so I thought. I have a scheduled quiet time at home that happens during the week (thank you, nap time!) but that time is a battle between things I should be doing, and want to be doing, and rest, and it lately has become a tug of war between a random chore I forgot earlier, a nap, a snack, a book, devotions, some exercises, or prayer. Usually it's some combination of those. I'm realizing after just one weekend in the quiet how many times I have a moment of stillness but I don't sit in it. I allow myself to be called away to pick up the living room yet again or vacuum up those crumbs on my kitchen floor that are taunting me. The amount of times I sit down and settle down to read or pray and then jump up because I forgot to do something...well, it's more than I'd like to admit. These things are not bad to do, and I feel more sane living in a clean home...but maybe I would feel more sane and whole and healthy if I close my eyes to all those things I "need" to do in order to do the thing I MOST need to do - sit in the quiet so I can sort out the clutter in my brain. Quiet my soul so that I can hear the whisper of God and stay there. Maybe I've been sacrificing the best thing for a good thing. Maybe I'm just beginning this journey in slow living and baby steps are an acceptable way for me to begin.
I thought I was moving slowly, that I wasn't caught up in the shouting advertisements and loud consumerism jumping up and down all around me. But here, where it's quiet - where I can't access the Target app or browse on Pinterest, or Google my questions as they come up (you know, those random trivia questions like how far away are stars?) - the facade falls off. Here, where it's quiet...thoughts become louder, habits more obvious, and the things I've used as crutches become painfully evident. I'm more a part of that world than I ever desired to be through the years. It's shaping me more than I'd like it to.
Lately, I have found myself quicker to anger and frustration than I once was. As I sort through that this weekend, I'm realizing that whenever anything goes wrong (I'm talking something spilled on the floor) I feel incredibly overwhelmed because I feel like I have nothing left to give. I'm overwhelmed to the point of "I can't possibly clean that on top of everything else I'm already doing." If a spill is my breaking point, then I need to create some bandwidth. I feel the limits of my bandwidth and I want to rebel against it. But the reality is I just don't have any more to give. I know the answer is rearranging some things, reprioritizing responsibilities, maybe cutting some things I don't want to cut, and lowering my expectations of what I'm capable of in this season.
But it feels like I just did this! It feels like I'm always doing this. I have and I do, but then a year later it seems like things have become overgrown again and in need of some pruning. Talk about an unpopular idea. All I see everywhere is how to have more, how to reorder to fit more in - to have more life. How to be more efficient so you can do more. How to be more impressive...more successful. But what if making an intentionally smaller life where I actually have energy and joy to give my children and husband is where my humanity can be celebrated again? Where I can enjoy and be present in the moments with my kids that I will never get back? Where their little voices and opinions truly do drown out the ever heavy pressure I feel from my to-do list? If it does that...then it's 100% worth it.
Here, where it's quiet - I find myself thinking about what to prune away and how to actively reset my expectations of what I "should" be and do.
All these thoughts in the course of just one day. Here, where it's quiet.