Cultivating a Quiet Life
It started at the cabin. Well, really it was the weeks leading up to our time there. Phil and I raced toward the holidays and the end of the year, multi-tasking here, speed coordinating calendars there. Trying to juggle the texts and the voicemails and the Facebook feeds and the special activities and the holiday gatherings and, and, and … as we drove the winding roads between Kansas City and Broken Bow, Oklahoma we felt exhausted.
It was the pause between Christmas and New Years, the family get-togethers behind us and 2017 in our sights straight ahead. As we pulled into Eagle Creek Escapes, we looked at each other with weary smiles and sighed, “We made it.” “We made it” was code for: “We’re about to fall off the grid for a few days and try to find our bearings again before heading home to re-engage.”
That first morning after breakfast, Phil went for a prayer walk and I snuggled into the couch with my second cup of coffee and a stack of books. I wanted to savor the quiet like a long, slow exhale. There was just one problem. I scribbled it into my journal like this: “There’s a spring inside me that’s wound so tight … sometimes I feel like I can barely breathe. I’m so hoping the Holy Spirit will touch it and let it go this weekend. I’m weary of grappling with the disconnect between who I am in Christ and this driving need to perform. I want to find joy, peace, and contentment in the daily rather than only feeling good – worthy – in what I label “productive.” I need to reconnect with the value and beauty of the process of preparation rather than fixating on just the finished product. Like, how can I enjoy peeling the potatoes as much as serving them perfectly seasoned and mashed to steamy perfection?”
For the life of me, I have NO idea where that analogy came from! Phil does almost all the cooking for us, and I don’t know that I’ve ever mashed potatoes to perfection. But … for those who cook; there you go! A couple years into our marriage, we realized that cooking is fun for him and a chore for me, so we switched up how we divide the household upkeep and he took over in the kitchen. Best decision ever! But, I digress …
Right after penning those words, I picked up the book my sister handed to me over the holidays. “I think you really need this,” she said. Was she ever right! “Present Over Perfect” came to me at just the right time and proved just the right instrument to gently unwind what was wound so tight at the end of 2016. Of course, the winding didn’t take just a few weeks or even a year. That winding of the spring has been happening for decades. I don’t expect it to unwind overnight, but by God’s grace and with Phil’s help, I’m going to yield to the process. And, we’re calling the process learning to “cultivate a quiet life.”
The idea was inspired by wisdom like this: “Now I know that the best thing I can offer to this world is not my force or energy, but a well-tended spirit, a wise and brave soul.”
And this: “I’m going to find a new way of living that allows for rest, as much rest as I need, not just enough to get me through without tears, but enough to feel alive and whole, grounded and gracious.”
So that’s the vision … find a way to live that’s not always bumped right up against “almost falling apart but not quite over the edge.” A way to live that honors slow, ordinary, and average. A quiet life. Join me?