Last night in the middle of the poetry party the electricity went off. Sky-flares peeked in windows in bold bursts, silhouetting our usual and I stared at my laptop in the dark…no internet connection… the screen illuminating the room. Boys clamored–wound up by darkness and excitement pulsed as their daddy lit candles and checked the weather on his
We sat in the hush and listened to the wind blow the deck furniture around. It was late–after ten–so I tucked protesting boys in with candle gently flickering—thinking of Little House on the Prairie and savoring the play of warm glow on their still young faces.
I returned to the couch in the dark.
We sat in silence, he and I; listened to driving rain turn to gentle patter, watched the play of lightning on hills in the distance. For once, no hum of air conditioner, no mindless buzz of refrigerator, dishwasher was silent. All of our daily companions closed their eyes in this dark.
There was only the soft ticking of the mantle clock keeping time with faint strumming of droplets colliding with window, only to slide down and lose form in streaky stream.
We giggled a little at our loss, wondered how did they do it? with no electricity…only talk to spend. We marveled at work-filled days and talk-filled evenings and fell in to silence.
I closed my eyes in the dark and felt God sitting beside.
Silence feels good to me. I find it by sitting still. By looking deeper into what is already here.
Always a solitary child, that’s me. I can fall into His arms in the quiet and never desire to leave. All my life this is where I have rested. Safe from jabbing words of others; hidden from wound-talk.
I know it’s not that way for everyone. And lately, besieged by life and fraught with hope, I’ve been wondering, Is there another way?
…I’ve found unexpected silence-and-listening practice through poetry. You can tell when a poet has been a good listener, because the poem is more likely to capture the essence of a thing, more likely to reproduce its voice and the heart of its rhythms; it also tends to reveal dreams and burdens that may exist in the poet or the poet’s community. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard)
God is always the same, yes, this I know. But I have also come to learn that He loves to mix things up. He understands the human tendency to grow stale when patterns are established. He loves surprises. He likes to keep our love fresh and new. This year has been a crazy mixed up year for finding God for me. My years of early morning quiet time suddenly ceased to feel intimate. I found myself falling asleep with my cheek pressed to the dining room floor at 5 a.m. for the first time in years.
It was time for something new.
Sitting in a quiet prayer closet might be your silence sweet-spot. But maybe you’d fare better with and active approach to silence…if not writing poetry, then perhaps drawing. Walking alone is good. You might go fishing without your iPod. I can also recommend reclining on a sunny day and listening to a good game of dog dominoes. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard)
I find God when I run. I feel Him in my legs, in my breath, in the acceleration of my beating heart. He meets me in the sky and the trees and the way the light changes colors on the horizon.
This morning when I ran, the storm was still fresh on the sidewalk. Fallen branches and stray leaves littered the street. The creek was rushing its banks and the smell of muddy water rose dense into the air around me. A handful of black crows perched on the utility wires above me, caw, caw, caw…
As my feet pounded the pavement, I remembered a poem my dear friend Laure Krueger sent me. In it, she tells me that I am birdsong, and those words have lifted me on the darkest of days. My heart soars as I imagine music in my stride. And as I go on, I am lifted into its melody.
I fly away
in the sky;
in morning dew-
and offer this
sweet frieze to
me in golden
dawn. I am
free. I am…
I grow when I look for Him in the not usual way. He loves for me to seek after Him in wild and beautiful ways. Writing poetry doesn’t seem so crazy a way to pray. Nor does running.
He’s there. He’s in it all.
This was written in response to week nine of L.L. Barkat’s God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us. Join me?