looking through me

Tag: still

unlikely word

For weeks an unexpected word has crept into my thoughts, my writing and my speech. I’ve used it as a noun: a comfortable support. And I’ve used it as a verb: to soften the effect of an impact on. The word itself is unexceptional, but its sudden repetition is significant.

I keep coming back to cushion.

I need extra padding between calendar items, between spaces and places and people. I need cushions in my day.

My drive times are soft, quiet dividers creating space to leave one place—both physically and mentally—and prepare for the next place.

After a meeting, I often sneak in a walk to give myself time to breathe and reset (and enjoy a few moments of solitude, if not silence) before diving into the next item of business.

I pad my evening and weekend activities so I’m not bouncing from event to event. I need space to process all the inputs, the conversations, the togetherness.

The activity of life often overstimulates me. While that overstimulation might appear to be utter stillness on the outside, it is frenetic motion on the inside. I need supports to lean on in my schedule and in my relationships. I need a few more minutes to reflect before and after interactions. I need moments of soul rest—meaningful pauses—to carry me through the day.

And now the calendar places me firmly in this season of busyness, of constant expectations, of traditions and new opportunities, of to-do lists and deadlines, of noise and grief and celebration.

It’s hard to add more cushion to a crowded schedule. But for months I’ve been tucking throw pillows in the nooks and crannies of my days, and now it’s time to revoke their decorative status and put them to use.

Even as my body moves from one task or location to another, I imagine my soul sinking into a plush pillow for a moment of quiet. As I wash dishes or lay out clothes for the next day, I breathe a little deeper and picture myself leaning into the supportive structure routines give me.

It’s an unlikely word for this season, but with that little bit of extra cushion around my heart, I’m finding deeper peace, joy and hope.

 

 

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season of quiet

I’ve lived too long in a season-less land: the leaves don’t drop, no flakes of snow fall, new growth doesn’t fight through cold, hard ground.

With a lack of rhythmic cues my ability to recognize signs of subtler seasons has never developed. I overlook internal indicators. I see life’s seasons not as they approach or as they are but as they slip to completion behind me. In retrospect I affix labels to what was, though even then the names are elusive.

But perhaps the long season I sense drawing to a close now can be categorized and celebrated before it’s a memory. Because it’s been a good, hard season. One I knew was valuable as it unfolded, but I didn’t know what it was.

Now I know. It was, and is, a season of quiet.

For almost a year the volume ratcheted down—as if God turned the knob on everything around me, placed His finger on my lips and gently murmured, “Shhhhh . . .”

The noise faded, and I began to learn how to listen. It’s a lesson I may never master, but one I can’t afford to rush through . . . and I haven’t. It’s been a long, slow practice made easier when words weren’t pouring out of my mouth and the internal torrent stilled.

The quiet freed me to listen and watch. For eleven months I spent my lunches alone. In the midday solitude I read words that poured life ever so slowly back into my grief-depleted soul. I learned to rest and wait to be needed, wait to be called.

Instead of pushing for connection, I idled on the periphery and let relationship build slowly. I offered myself in measured moments. I had more to give—and I knew it—but it wasn’t the time . . . it wasn’t the place. I couldn’t explain it, but now I see it was a gift for me to accept and enjoy without overanalyzing . . . and without guilt.

Though it’s still quiet I sense a change coming. The breeze is stiffening. The air is heavy with possibility. Yet I see how active God was in the quiet months as He built my capacity to accept His love and lean hard into His timing and plan.

I don’t know what the new season will be—or how long it will last—but I’ll enter it with deep gratitude for the quiet and the One who needs no volume to be heard.

 

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