Monday, May 16, 2011

A Deafening Silence

I must report a new noise around here. Accustomed to the after school din of Nick Jr., BluesClues intro or Between the Lions, I was shocked twice this week by the sound of silence. It's a beautiful thing. And I think it really is a sacred thing too.

Peace, at last. Hurrah! The addictive trait of zoning out to television has has been broken and is staying so.

Can anyone relate to the shock and dismay of this? Without my asking, Reid turned off the set and chose to get his homework, sit in concentration to complete it, and then simply sit and be. This concept of rest is unprecedented in his repetoire of recreational activities.

Once upon a time I (or a team of therapists) would structure his every waking moment and attempt to factor in some quiet in theory. In practice, this always took more of my time and energy and talking than it was really worth. Prompting and following through; reinforcing and praising.

Somewhere in the teens, I acquiesced to the age appropriate allowance of vegging on the couch after a long day of school and bailed on the hope of productive independence. I'm ashamed to admit, it's just easier and I've run out of steam.

But praises be! It is happening spontaneously before my very eyes. Again today, there was a reasonable amount of tv, then a bath, a rest period, then engagement with dad. No tv blaring, no pleading and negotiating.

"Be still and know that I am God," is an oft-quoted verse to slow our American 21st century pace. In my past reality, living with someone whose engine runs on constant high, it seems slightly unrealistic. Hyperactivity has a contagious aspect to it. It dictates that at least one other party is launched into a synchronized orbit. Like a tag team surveillance operation, Jim and I have developed a rhythm over the years of alternating being "on." Supervising, intervening, available and alert. This has been our norm for years. The house is rarely quiet. As one friend duly noted, its like the terrible two's but you haven't outgrown them. (At the time, I did not appreciate that.)

Even if I forcibly remove myself to the hammock in the backyard, a habitual hyper-vigilance cues me to the tv's buzz, the garage door creak, the stainless fridge door flashing open. "Just in case;" "you never know;" "better safe than sorry" reminders caption every quasi-meditational thought in my head. We are not accustomed to rest or stillness.

How does one who is never still begin to know God? Or develop intimacy with Him? It's easy to see how our hyperactivity--whether chosen or imposed--serves to separate us from hearing--knowing--experiencing God. If experiencing God happens in stillness, then how will it happen for the hyperactive child or parent? It is both a discipline and a skill.

What I'm realizing this month in gratitude is that the converse of that Scripture is also true: Knowing that I am God enables you to be still. As Jim and I acknowledge God on the throne in our home, knock other idols off the high places (yes, i mean tv), and take more of His Word literally, peace arrives. We can all be still, not because we changed anything in the physical--rules, rewards, or policies--but as a result of changes in the spiritual invisible realm.

The change is inexplicable and undeniable. But don't take my word for it, take God's.

Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, and also obedience. You hear the prayer in it all. Psalm 65:1 The Message

Quiet, everyone! Shh! Silence before God. Something's afoot in his holy house. He's on the move! Zechariah 2:12-13

"But oh! God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!" Habakkuk 2:19-20

1 comment:

  1. WOW. You are in my head somehow. I often tell others how the most tiring part of this whole adventure is having to be ON all the time. There is no downtime, even when my husband is in the main ON mode. Just recently we have reached several stages that I never thought we'd get to. Of course, I can't think of what they are now because my brain is dead, but I hope that I'll be able to tell someone else that isn't as far down the rocky road that it will be ok. It gets better.

    Then again, I remember laughing at the woman that wrote about the succession of types of locks they used on closets/doors etc. as their daughter got older and more nimble. Yeah, we started at the simple hook and eye combination and never REALLY thought we'd be looking at the combination locks. Sure enough, she's figured almost all of them out and that might just have to be the next step to keep her out of the bathroom and closets etc. LOL

    So, congrats on your new peace and quiet level. I'm thankful God gives us hints of heaven now and then. There are some days I can't wait for her to be a moody teenage girl that just wants to stay in her room and mope. LOL :)