“Quiet time is often not quiet. Our designated prayer time is generally consumed by hurried meditation on a scripture passage, a run through the Rolodex of persons to intercede/petition for, and occasional expressions of gratitude for the gifts in our lives…Recent studies have shown that the average congregation on a Sunday morning can tolerate only fifteen seconds of silence before someone feels compelled to break it with an announcement, a song, a prophesy, or whatever.”
~Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God~
Yesterday, after a week of house renovations, followed by four days of houseguests, I drove my dad and his lady friend three hours north, where my brother met me at Wendy’s for the elderly-parent hand-off. After we hugged and kissed goodbye, my brother drove north to take the parents to his home. And I turned to get back into my car.
As I drove down the snowy highway, I realized it was the first time in weeks I was completely quiet–just me and my thoughts.
For days-on-end, I had been listening to and/or talking to multiple people at once. From contractors to grandparents, I had people in my home almost every day for two weeks straight. At one point over the weekend, while we were driving home from dinner, my dad’s lady friend was in the front seat talking to me. My dad was sitting in the middle seat, also talking to me (they could not hear each other talking). And my son was sitting next to me in the back-back asking questions like, “When do I get to meet my birth mother?” and “What do you mean I have a half brother and half sister????” (I don’t know if he could hear the grandparents talking or not, but he found this to be an opportune time to ask life-altering questions.)
I adore my people—the 88-year-old ones visiting from out of town right down to the elementary-aged ones living under my roof. But for an introvert like me, constant interaction of this nature can only last so long before every gram of energy is sucked out of my brain and I become a puddle of mush in the back-back of my GMC Acadia.
That is what I feel like today. Mush.
For me, solitude is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. It’s like Sabbath for my brain.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Or convenient, even. Being a communicator, I process information through talking about it or writing about it. Most of the time, I don’t even know what I think about something until I hear myself say it or read something I’ve written. Solitude does not come naturally to me.
Besides that, I like to use my time wisely. Sometimes I make productivity more of a god than a goal. So, even if I have an opportunity for solitude (like today), I will fill it with mental clutter, remembering I’m out of eggs and Cheerios, and also toilet paper, and oh-what-the-heck, I might as well write out my menu plan and grocery list while I’m sitting here. And don’t forget to start the soup for dinner tonight. And gather the trash for garbage-pick-up day…
Just while attempting to write this post (alone, in the quiet), I’ve switched laundry twice, checked e-mail thrice, read three blog articles (commented on one), answered the phone multiple times and sent two texts.
I have had a terrible time trying to process a coherent thought on the subject of solitude.
Perhaps because solitude is the very thing I need.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, my soul craves quiet today. Even though I have ten other things pulling at me (not the least of which is the writing of this post), I hereby declare I have nothing new to tell you that would be more beneficial than simply letting myself be silent.
So, instead of continuing to forcefully place each word on this screen, I’m going to just let it be. I’m going to spend my remaining hours while the children are at school in silence.
After all, it is Holy Week. What a perfect time to be quiet on purpose.
Week 10 Focus:
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, communicator or not, solitude is an essential element of a well-balanced life. Here are a few blog posts I’ve written on the importance of solitude. Because, like I just told you, I have nothing new to say. Yet, I choose to keep talking.
- An Introduction to Meditation (not the New-Agey kind)
- Season of Solitude (the time God asked me to spend months in quiet…crazy!)
- Jesus Models Solitude (need a good reason to be quiet? Here’s one)
- Turn Up the Quiet (a day in the life of my loudness)
- Finding my Quiet Place (practical ways to introduce solitude into your life)
Talk to me about solitude. Do you embrace it? Do you fight it? Do you hate it? Do you crave it? Do you practice it? Or do you wait until your brain turns to mush and then put a pillow over your head?