This picture was taken on my folks’ place in Colorado. We had seen the deer a ways from the house and Dad told me to jump on the snowmobile an we would go try to get pictures. I jumped on behind him, holding on to the snowmobile with one hand and the camera with the other. His camera. His nice camera.
I checked the speedometer one time and was surprised to know how quickly we could get up to 50 miles an hour. We found the spot the deer had dodged into the brush by the river and followed them on foot. I felt like a National Geographic photographer. Except my pictures were not completely in focus. Still, I did get this one and I never dropped the camera, so I’m happy.
This place is a place of peace. The deer come through and graze, even coming up to the house to munch on the apples from the apple tree. Dad has buried a few of his beloved pets under the apple trees. There is a river that runs through the property and the sunsets are wonderful. For the most part the place is quiet. It is easy to steal away to the river, or even just out to the porch, and collect your thoughts.
My house isn’t quite like this. There are, I believe, 17 children and youth under the age of 17 on our cul-de-sac. There are lots of neighborhood dogs. Who like to bark. There are x-box games and computer games and soccer games and glorious games played only in the mud. There is noise. Lots of noise. There is no river to sit beside and no easy access to quiet.
And yet sometimes I am very aware of that need for a moment of silence. Madeleine L’Engle (yes, her again!) tells it this way:
“Vacuum cleaners are simply something more for me to trip over; and a kitchen floor, no matter how grubby, looks better before I wax it. The sight of a meal’s worth of dirty dishes, pots, and pans makes me want to run in the other direction. Every so often I need OUT; something will throw me into total disproportion, and I have to get away from everybody – away from all these people I love most in the world – in order to regain a sense of proportion.”
I have those moments. I can’t explain them, but I need the space and I need the time to simply be, without any requirements. To regain a sense of proportion.
Jesus did this, yes? He knew the need to be alone with His Father. He knew the need to protect Himself from being completely depleted. When we don’t protect ourselves from that, we become useless.
When I am not selfish for that time, I find that I become irritable and frustrated and tend to bark rather than speak. I’m useless.
I wish that I had the river my parents have in the backyard. Or the creek that L’Engle goes on to describe as her place to get away from everything. I do have a greenway and a creek that is within walking distance. I also have a back porch with the same sky L’Engle gazed at and that overlooks my parents’ river. I have to be a little more creative…but the silence and places of re-proportioning are there.
How about you? How do we find these touchstones in our world today….in the busyness and noise of our lives? In the cul-de-sacs that are filled with noisy children and barking dogs and lack of peaceful rivers? And how do we teach our children that this is as important as finishing the next level on the x-box?