by Katie Julius
I fully acknowledge that inside your home is anything but quiet right now. I know mine isn’t! You’ve been cooped up for about a week now and the novelty of this all is wearing off very quickly … with no end in sight. However, if you venture outside (not too far and a safe distance from others), you may find that quiet. Images of near-empty streets, freeways, amusement parks, and popular destinations fill the news.
You may find the quiet in your schedule. Last week, I used almost half a roll of white-out tape on my large wall calendar, hiding all of the activities that normally fill our days. This week, in particular, was going to be a busy one. In addition to all of our regular activities, our homeschool co-op had its three-show run of Frozen JR. scheduled for this coming weekend, which means we would be in the midst of tech week right now. It’s always a busy and stressful time of year, even if the end result is worth it.
However, this week’s calendar now stares back at me, eerily blank save the appointment to “Zoom” with my family on Monday evening. We not been together in over a year, since December 2018, and even then, it was in the midst of the hustle and bustle of my sister’s wedding. My brother and his family live in Colorado with a toddler and baby number two on the way. My sister works a busy schedule as a NICU nurse and enjoys traveling as a newlywed. We spend our days running from one activity to the next, pursuing the interests of an eight-year-old.
We are all at different stages of life and have drifted apart over the years. Now, with the current global pandemic, we have found ourselves in a place where we have the time to connect, everyone, at the same time. I feel a bit guilty admitting that this is what it takes for us to do this, but I’m looking forward to it. I know my daughter will enjoy seeing her “baby” cousin that is about to turn three. I know my mom, living alone, will be encouraged and uplifted by seeing her grandbabies and babies all in one “place” again. This is what happens in the midst of the quiet.
We’ve had time to do things we’ve been putting off. I’m working on some of our family photo books (I’ve yet to complete a single year up until now!). We have had some extra time to clean and purge things we no longer need. Having a cleaner, less cluttered home has resulted in less stress and fewer arguments about stuff. (It’s still definitely a work in progress, though). We watch movies together. We play board games together. We eat three meals a day together at our dining room table. Life seems simpler. There’s no rushing. There’s no coming home at the end of the day exhausted, after driving all over Southern California in traffic (yes, even in the middle of the day).
You may find the quiet in the outdoors. The back of our property sits against a fairly busy street in our city. Even late at night, I can hear the cars zooming by, the sirens wailing as emergency responders fly to their calls, the semi-trucks barreling down the street as they set off car alarms. We have lived here for almost four-and-a-half years and I can count on one hand the number of times we have enjoyed our backyard, largely in part to the noise from the street. As I sit and write this article, I hear nothing from that street. Occasionally a car will come by or a semi will roll down the street, but it’s very quiet. I’ve heard the birds chirping a lot more; at least three or four different kinds. We plan to explore outside this week to see if we can find out exactly what kind they are so we can learn more about them.
Whether you are enjoying this pause or anxiously awaiting the end of it, one thing is for sure. This will end. Life will eventually go back to normal. My husband will return to work from his company’s office. My calendar will be full again. The sounds of the street will fill my backyard again. The birds will still chirp and sing, though they will be drowned out by the noise of the city most of the day. We will lose this quiet. But we shouldn’t forget this time of quiet and our need for it.
Two years ago (this weekend, actually), we scattered my dad’s ashes near Hume Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains. He was still pretty young–just 59–when he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. It was a hard time. My dad was one of those people who had one speed: always on the go. Every year, he and my mom would spend a week at Hume Lake where there is no Internet, no TV, and until recently, no WiFi. Hume Lake was the one place he was forced to slow down. Throughout that weekend, the line of Mercy Me’s song would run through my head over and over again, “To be still and know/That you’re in this place/Please let me stay and rest/In your holiness/Word of God speak.” A verse, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
We are being forced to slow down. To listen. To be. God is trying to speak to us. We’ve been filling our lives with so many other things that we haven’t been able to hear through the noise. Rest in the quiet. Listen in the quiet. Be in the quiet.