There’s a lot to be said for quiet.
Every day, William and I go on several walks. We take a walk mid-morning to get fresh air around the neighborhood. We walk to the pond in the afternoon to feed the fish and the ducks. More often than not, we will sneak in a third walk in the evening to decompress before we start his bedtime routine. He absolutely loves being outside, so I seize every opportunity to nurture that love.
On most of our adventures, we chat constantly. The teacher in me can’t resist pointing out different sights and providing explanations for new experiences and encounters. I ask him questions about the things we pass and I tell him stories that randomly come to mind. We talk about the blessings in our lives and how cool our God is to have made such an incredible world. His responses vary from humming and chirping to blowing raspberries and I love them all. These “conversations” are absolute treasures to me in our days together. It blows my mind to think that, in time, my monologues will give way to two-way communication.
All that said, I find time on at least one of our walks every day for us to simply enjoy the quiet. My mini-lessons are tabled and my musings are silenced. We walk together and simply enjoy the sounds around us.
Quiet has been a dear friend of mine for as long as I can remember. This may strike you as odd, given that my chosen profession was public school teaching, which is not known for its serenity. Quiet is something often sought but seldom found in the fourth grade world and yet, I loved every minute of it. Cherishing quiet doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the beautiful chaos of being with other people. I adore being right in the middle of kids’ hustle and bustle and relish opportunities to socialize with friends and family whenever I can. When my tank is empty, however; it’s quiet that refuels me.
These days, if you want quiet you have to intentionally seek it out. There are 9 million voices (both spoken and written) clamoring for our attention at any given moment. As a result, many people have developed a discomfort with quiet and seek to fill every second void of sound. I don’t want that for William. I frequently wonder if the noise in our lives is the single greatest contributor to stress and anxiety. When was the last time you sat at a red light and just thought? When your ears are always filled with something to dictate your thinking, do you ever have time to truly reflect? To remember? To process? To pray? To grieve? When we distract ourselves from sadness or pain so that we never face it or feel it, do we ever really heal?
My fear is that the lack of quiet is stunting our emotional growth. We are so preoccupied with external voices speaking all day long that our internal voice is often ignored. I don’t want that to be the case in my life. Rather than constantly allowing someone else to control what I think about, I want to choose daily to walk through the experiences in my life and be fully present within them. This means spending some time every day just thinking…expressing my gratitude, reflecting on my victories and struggles, acknowledging my hurt, praying, remembering, and hopefully, growing.
I know quiet can be hard, but I believe it’s worthwhile. Regardless of how often William chooses to pursue it, I don’t ever want him to be uncomfortable with it. Rather than viewing quiet as a lack of something, I want him to see it as a gift of time for just him. And so…we walk. And while I treasure the chats we have during the rest of the day, sometimes our most incredible conversation can be found within those quiet strolls.