quiet

Put Your Finger Here and See My Hands

Things at work have been quiet lately. With the majority of my team in Europe for three weeks I have been holding down the fort. I sip my coffee, play whatever music I want, send my emails, cross of my tasks, and think.

Without other voices and fewer phone calls my brain has been on over drive  – feeling the need to fill the spaces of vacant casual office conversations with measurements of accomplishment and tracking my goals.

I’m driven by productivity. All the personality tests tell me “efficiency” is one of my strengths.

And yet, this summer, the universe is telling me to shut off those dials I used to quantify life and sit instead, in quiet, with myself.

My husband has been playing softball two nights a week and gets home late.

My side hustle marketing job slowed to a trickle as my mentor also took a six week sabbatical.

My mom, much to my dismay, tells me she’s busy with dinner at friends, or on bike rides in Breckenridge, or at a movie with Martha who is the best movie theatre photographer you will ever meet. (pst… I didn’t forget)

Our bible study took a break and is perhaps falling apart forever.

I’m realizing kids go back to school this week (um what? I haven’t done any cool summer things besides climb a mountain) and summer is coming to a close.

I’ve found myself going from quiet office, to the gym with headphones on, to my house, where I cook and wait and read – voices of characters filling my head.

As an introvert, I proudly love to decompress with a book (I’ve got Hillary Clinton’s new one loading on my Kindle right now) and I politely turn down invitations to venture out into the world in favor of, um, my back porch and a glass of wine.

But I’m more comfortable there when my days are filled with tasks and to-do lists and deadlines.

This summer, I’ve had few deadlines and despite my best efforts, the ones I’ve created for myself have fizzled.

Quiet.

Two years ago, when Dad died, my mom was given the dark gift of time. She would sit and read hundreds of books by herself, flicking pages and wiping tears and I’d cook for her, angrily swatting at my grief gremlin, wondering when the hell would it be my turn to sit, and read, and cry?

The gremlin burrowed deeper into my pocket, nibbling as she went, saying she preferred to emerge in quiet.

I see why people are scared of silence.

We scramble to fill our time with other’s voices – of friends, of family, of bosses and self-help authors, and even literary characters. These outside forces demand a level of performance, perfection, and escape we can beat ourselves up until we attain.

This summer, others stopped talking and filling my time. My head got moving and my heart got gurgling and if I let them, both body parts pulled my grief gremlin up by the feathers on its head, out of my heart pocket, and into my hands.

“We’re ready” the head and the heart told the gremlin. They conspired to give me the quiet I needed.

This summer, while bosses were in Europe and mothers were out living again and husbands were out smacking softballs and swatting mosquitos, I sat and read and cried.

It was my turn. To sit and to process and let all of what I pushed down bubble up and ooze onto tissues while I ate dinner at the kitchen table by myself.

I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, but rather, perplexed by this huge open space. I’d shovel in stir-fry or noodles and look curiously at my heart holes. The voids of his missing mingling with all the remedies I’ve tried to use to fill my wound.

I keep thinking of Thomas in the Bible, when he doubts Jesus’ resurrection. I like to think Jesus takes Thomas’ hand and holds his fingers over his wounds.

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:24-29

Jesus knows Thomas has to touch the scars to believe not only in the truth of Jesus’ power, but to have closure so he can move forward.

Jesus goes right in, tenderly saying to Thomas ‘I see how my pain caused you great pain. How my wounds have given you some too. The scars can heal. Touch them and see. And move forward.’

This summer, all this damn quiet has opened my wounds.

People are busy and instead the spirit is present.

aaron-staes-739834-unsplash.jpg

Photo by aaron staes on Unsplash

She holds my fingers over my scars, touching and tending and healing as I sit and read and cry.

Noise will come again. People return from Europe. Task lists and projects and deadlines will loom.

But for now, I sit quietly, smoothing beautiful skin and wiping my glistening eyes.

 

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Podcasts and Petals and Quiet

I’m trying to get in a gym routine. I met with a personal trainer – you get two free sessions when you sign up – and I now have a weight training card with exercises I’m supposed to do. Those cards sit still and wait for me in the filing cabinet under the stairs.

Lifting weights still intimidates me.

My comfort zone often places me on the elliptical, feet staying stationary while my legs and arms pump me towards imaginary miles while I watch shitty t.v. shows or worse.

The news.

When I go to the gym at 5:30 pm, ten t.v. screens flash with world news updates.

Blech.

Horrible news flickers across the screens. Volcanoes erupting. Draughts happening. Teenagers arrested. Meth houses making babies sick. Politics – a circus. I channel the absurdity on these screens and pump my arms faster – if I run fast enough on a stationary machine, maybe all the madness will stop.

I’ve been at this looking for good thing long enough to know fixating on the fear and negative doesn’t help. It’s like me on that machine – all that energy exerted and in reality I haven’t gone anywhere.

Instead, a list of gratitude for the quiet, beautiful things.

Some weeks, it’s just that simple. For this week:

  • Bourbon Milkshakes – yup that’s a thing – who needs a margarita on Cinco de Mayo when you can have something from this menu instead? The sound of ice cream slurping up a paper straw
  • Hearing your recorded voice – I’m tickled that Hello Humans allowed me to record what I’ve learned in the last two years on this podcast – listen to the first few minutes
  • Lilacs – they smell so amazing – I want to go on a sneaky lilac hunting adventure through the park and find extra sprigs to cut and stick in a mason jar. If you have extras – let me know
  • Pink petals falling from blooming trees – they grace the sidewalk and make me feel like God is preparing where I walk like I’m a bride walking down the aisle
  • Spring rain storms
  • Food in the fridge — water flowing from my sink — the stove turns on with the press of a button
  • Facetime – for phone calls with loved ones
  • Taking risks – the worst that can happen is they ignore you – good news when they find out they aren’t, in fact ignoring you
  • Flannel sheets
  • Breezes coming in through the window as I fall asleep

 

What good and quiet things can you find? What do you do to drown out all the noise of the bad?