February 19, 2018

There is a Time to Be Silent

Creation pours forth speech everyday, whispering truths to listening ears of who God is and what he does and what delights him. One of the things creation speaks is that there is a time for stillness and silence.

In the cycles and seasons of nature, loud gusts of wind flow over prairies, storms make cauldrons of waves, and cicadas cry out in summer heat. The cycles and seasons teach us most created things have volumes that can turn high and low. The ocean water, in the most far flung sea, still. The ocean's water, pushed and prodded by hurricane winds, churning. Rain falling from storehouses in the clouds or frozen into dropping ice pellets, loud as it hits the roof, turns soft and mesmerizing when the water’s formed into tiny fluttering snowflakes.

It’s the snow, especially, that hushes the earth as a librarian moving among the shelves calling for quiet. 

When it’s snowing outside, I stand at the kitchen window with my coffee mug and try to watch individual snowflakes fall. Prior to the snow’s arrival, when the forecast’s been calling for 8-10 inches, there’ve been trips to the store for bread and milk, salt poured on the driveway, cars moved and wipers raised, shovels and sleds gathered from the shed, emails received from schools regarding inclement weather plans. At the sight of the first snowflake, my boys run through the house, ecstatic, begging to put on their winter boots and head outside. When they go, I stand again at the window, still, waiting for the quiet to descend.

After a few inches have accumulated, I go outside and listen. In our community, inches of snow shut everything down and shuts everyone up in their homes. I hear no cars, no trucks on the highway a mile away. I hear only the snowflakes calmly falling to their final resting places, and this is precisely what I’ve come outside for—to hear the sound of peace.

After all the bustle of store runs and firewood gathering and chatter with neighbors regarding the forecast—rest.

In God’s world, there are times when he directs the ocean to roar and the thunder to clap, but the snow is God’s message to us that there is a time for silence.

On snow days, all work and strivings cease. My senses are awakened from their dull slumber to wonder at the design of a snowflake or the crackle of a fire in the fireplace.

This is what happens when we are silent—we notice. Like covering our eyes and our hearing suddenly made more alert, our purposeful silence and stillness offers us the opportunity to
recognize beauty all around us just when we’ve found it difficult to see.

When was the last time you savored a bite of food? Took a walk in the woods? Listened to a bird's call? Held a child’s hand and thoughtfully traced the shape of his fingers? Smelled fresh cut grass? Stood under falling rain without an umbrella’s covering? Looked someone you love in the eye and really noticed them?

Friend, life isn’t all doom and gloom. Certainly, there is pain. Certainly, mundane tasks require our attention and, in general, we navigate uneventful days. However, let us have eyes to see and ears to hear. The invisible hand not only paints the invisible artwork of soul redemption but very visible beauty as well.

Let us be people who still ourselves so that our senses come alive. We must think in order to be thankful. And we must be thankful in order to experience joy. The greatest tragedies of our age are our constant motion, our over-scheduled lives, and our obsessive attachment to screens. We tend to believe we’ll be robbed of happiness if we fail to match the world’s pace step for step when in fact the pace robs of us of the simplicity that displays beauty, which in turn leads to thanksgiving and, after thanksgiving, joy.

If busyness mutes beauty, what mutes busyness? Beauty, of course. Paying attention to the small gifts of everyday life helps us see and savor and, in turn, makes our distracted, numb hearts beat with thankfulness.

Thankfulness will lead to joy, because when we're still, God himself will whisper it into our hearts.

You've just read an excerpt from my new book, Searching for Spring, releasing March 6. When you preorder Searching For Spring, redeem your receipt for these beautiful preorder freebies, such as a calendar (with spring highlighted, of course), the first chapter for immediate reading, and more. 
Preorder today from AmazonBarnes & NobleTarget, or Christianbook.com and receive your freebies when you fill out this form with your receipt information. 

Excited about reading Searching For Spring? Share about it with your friends using #searchingforspring!