The kids have left for school and I am sitting at my kitchen table, littered with junk mail and the crumbs from breakfast. The finish on the huge farm table began giving out several years ago. Now no matter how much I scrub it my shirt still sticks to it when I lean up against it.
Inside, the house is utterly still, the quiet only broken by the subtle click of the dog’s nails on the hardwood floor. I can hear the drone of the interstate a half mile away as it seeps through windows, walls…doors.
I sit holding a cup of scalding coffee in my hand and watch the sun slip over the neighbors’ roof lines and across the dying zinnias in my weedchoked flower bed. I didn’t plant the zinnias. They just came up from last year’s seeds.
I was too busy this summer to do anything at all to the yard, consumed by crushing deadlines for a ghostwriting project and the daunting task of full-time parenting of four kids during summer break. My two raised vegetable beds optimistically tried their best- sprouting beans and tomatoes all their own right alongside the Bermuda grass, and a host of other weeds I can’t name.
“What about the garden?” The kids asked.
“It is a Darwinian experiment,” I replied. “Survival of the fittest.”
Turns out nothing but the weeds flourished. And there, chest high, dying, dropping the seeds of their vile offspring into the earth, they remain still.
“I promise,” I told my neighbor, George, “I will attack the weeds as soon as I am finished with this book.”
Now, my break between projects is almost over and somehow, the weeds remain the victor in my experiment. They, it seems, will even out survive me.
I have a yoga teacher who always says the same thing in that moment when the pose is too hard, the practice too long-
“Find a moment of stillness in this difficult place.”
Legs shaking. Sweat blurring my vision. Breath ragged and uneven.
A disdainful glance down at my middle to see my 46-year-old muffin top escaping my yoga pants.
And in the middle of it all, the reminder to reach for stillness.
I hear this call for stillness come back to me over and over again in a world that is frenzied and loud.
I strain to listen for the call in a life that is sometimes simply overfilled and other times…
heartbreakingly not what I envisioned at all.
I listen for it through the beeping of emails, the drone of the interstate, the inane chatter of reality tv and the aching cries of my own heart.
I listen for it as my hands tremble, I gasp for breath, and my vision blurs with tears.
I whisper words of gratitude.
I hold my children close.
I open my heart to God above and my neighbor beside.
For in the stillness, I hear the voice of God.
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12