I like to notice patterns. I notice them in the mannerisms of people I love, in my surroundings, lately, on our daily walks, and in my own life. One pattern that is undeniable in my own heart, is that when life feels full, I typically neglect some important heart things. I often long for a moment to breathe, but when that fleeting moment comes, if I haven't been tending to my heart, I fill that sweet space with folding laundry, or wiping counters, or making a grocery list. None of which are bad things, but they can be an escape from our own thoughts, in and of themselves. I'm working my way (slowly) through a devotional for moms called Fresh Start for Moms by Valerie Woerner, and the entry for Day 14 is entitled, "When Quiet is Scary." Woerner writes,
The scary part is where my thoughts go when they finally have a chance to run free. [...] When we have a little space to think, we sometimes have trouble taking our thoughts captive, and those blessed moments end up being draining instead of refreshing--and all the more so because we had such high hopes for how this quiet would rejuvenate us.
Life feels very full in a way it never has before. I don't want to be afraid of those stolen moments of quiet—5 minutes during naptime, or the quiet of a morning walk—and fill them with media or to-do list items. I want to great them with joy, tend to my heart, and take every thought captive, with the help of the Holy Spirit. And in the midst of new parenthood, there are times when I need to face irritability or envy or hard-heartedness head-on. That may mean that dishes stay in the sink until the next free moment. That may mean I leave my phone in the basket under the stroller during our walks, and take time to just breathe and pray.
The quiet not only allows for some attention to areas where I'm struggling, but it also awakens praise in my heart. I'm enamored with what we see on our little daily walks: the peak blooming of Queen Anne's Lace, a white mailbox, set against the green, milkweed and oak and maple along the path, a tiny toad, a salamander, two monarch butterflies mingling as they fly past us, a tiny red leaf, hinting at the season ahead. We hear crickets and birdsongs, and the rustle of wind in the trees, all of it sounds and sights I haven't paid enough attention to in recent years. Everything around us constantly changing, constantly shouting the goodness of God.
Life feels full, but looks slower (and far sweeter) with a baby, but I think I'm beginning to see that's exactly what my heart needed, all of it illustrated in a way, by morning walks and a decision to embrace the quiet. I read this today, from Thomas Schreiner:
We don’t master life, and we don’t know what the days ahead will bring. But we put our trust in God, and eat and drink every day with joy. We give thanks for our daily bread. We find joy in the ordinary things of life: in taking walks, in exercising, in regularly attending church, and in meeting with friends. If our days are good, if we are spared suffering, that is a gift of God. Ordinary days have their own glory. Every piece of toast with jam on it is a gift of God. Every sweet apple and tasty clementine. When we receive life as God’s gift, we see the glory in the ordinary.
Life as God's gift. Glory in the ordinary, in tiny toads, and milkweed, and morning birdsong. In daily walks where I'm more present and I choose to embrace the quiet, and along with it, a more awake heart. One that's soft and eager to become more so. Not afraid of quiet and the space for prayer and introspection that the quiet allows.
P.S.— I wrote a post titled "A heart in tune" almost 4 years ago, and it still rings true. Sometimes I read posts from the past and realize that I was writing about something that I need to read again (and apply) years later.