I live inside a filter. The first touch of my baby’s cheek against my lips makes my heart catch. The first taste of birthday cake after five weeks without sweets is like a slice of Heaven. But within seconds, my brain filters it out, in search of the next new stimulus. Is this simply the reality of human neurological processing, or is it a symptom of a hurry-up culture? I don’t know. But in the noise and chaos of daily life, the pressure outside my head is the same as that within it.
This morning, I walk rough, muddy trails punctuated by knobbly tree roots, seeking a place to rest. I used to want company on these treks, but now I find that I prefer the solitude. I choose a place that feeds all my senses. Today it is a creek channeled between a long, straight bank of small rocks and a sculpted retaining wall. On it rests a sycamore tree, topped off and uprooted by the ferocity of a flood, and then jammed into the bank, its root system broken and tangled and taller than I am.
Such a place beckons because it calls me to awe at the power of creation. I imagine the raging torrent, with that fifty-foot monstrosity tearing through the place where I sit.
When I first sit down in the quiet, my brain is a jumble—the pressure of a million thoughts racing each other, trading first and second place and in so doing, creating a tangled knot of trivialities.
I trace the cross on my forehead as if I am cutting a pressure valve into my brain. I try not to pick and choose from thoughts, but simply to ignore them all until they lose energy and go away. And as they do, I grow sleepy. I lie back, cover my eyes, and doze, absorbing the world through my ears.
At first, all I hear is the distant whirr of traffic and the trickle of water in the shallows. But slowly, everything I have been filtering out begins to register again. Peep frogs. Bird calls nearby. Bird calls distant. The breeze whispering in the bare treetops. And as I become aware of the world, the inner fury calms. If I stay along enough, it halts altogether, and instead of an inner wilderness, I exist in a soft, cool darkness where God’s voice can be heard. And I feel awake.
When I begin my trek back to trail and asphalt and combustion engine and parenthood, I place a hand on the stripped trunk of that fallen monolith. It is warm and smooth. I clamber up and walk the length of it, to the first split, and the second split, until I stand looking down at the saplings along the creek, wound with the same hibernating ivy that probably killed the sycamore I’m standing on.
As I leave the woods, a tingling clarity in my head makes the whole world look different—artistic and starkly beautiful. That sensation will fade quickly once I return to the noise and chaos of three children, a messy house, and writing assignments. But the sense of calm will remain for a while, fading as the jungle slowly retakes my brain. And then, I will go out again, because here, I awake to myself. I awake to the best that is in me.
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Beautiful, beautiful. This encourages me to take the time to do the same. We live on ten beautiful acres, but I often put off getting out, alone, long enough.. not “put off” just don’t make the time. I need to, because as you expressed so well, that’s where the real me awakens. Thanks for this.
(30 minute mom)
Here from Steady Mom.
Thanks for the lovely reminder to not let the busyness banish the beautiful!
Great reminder…one I need to hear often!
Beautiful! I just read a devotional that reminded me about how God often speaks in the quiet. I can totally relate as a mother of 3 that it is so hard to find the quiet!
That sounds heavenly. I know you prefer solitude but can I come walk with you? Sometimes getting away is just the sanity and stillness we need to bolster us through the days of chaos.
Thank you for sharing.. this is a very nice momentous thought that also bring courage at the same time sentiment. It contains tip which glows upon everything.
I am participating WFMW and here’s mine: My Works-For-Me-Wednesday — Laundry Tip
Thanks again for sharing. ~hugs~
Beautiful!! Thank you.
Oh this is beautiful writing! I am there with you this morning — thank you for giving me a few seconds of tranquility before the day rushes in!
I do this too… like some sort of sensation junkie.
Love this – it is a discipline to return to quiet. I forget and then find myself losing perception. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful moment.
This is beautiful! So vivid, and I longed to be there. I often wish I lived somewhere with better scenery, rather than the desert, but then I realize I can meditate and gather my head, and hear God, anywhere. I just need to take the time to do so. Thanks for the reminder!