This morning Charming Hal asked me if I had any New Year’s Resolutions. Still sipping my first cup of coffee, I stared sleepily into space and shrugged. “I’m just going to do everything better.” The more I thought about it the more that seemed like a good plan. I’ll eat better. I’ll exercise more. I’ll waste less time. I’ll keep a tidier house. I won’t let the dogs on the furniture. I won’t carry my recycling around in my car for days at a time. And I’ll never just paint over my toenail polish. In short, I will be amazing in 2015.
But then I remembered a similar list in 2014. And 2013. And 2012. And I decided to get more specific. What is something that will improve my life and the lives of my Charming Children and Charming Husband? The answer? Silence. Recent research and ancient wisdom tell us that silence is important – crucial even. For people of faith, silence is an opportunity to hear God’s voice or just to be aware of His presence. There is also evidence to suggest that there are significant psychological benefits of silence.
However with four kids, a husband, and a job, finding time for silence sounds nearly impossible. Some days I don’t even have time to shower. I certainly don’t have time to sit on a mountain top and contemplate life’s mysteries.
So, what’s the answer to getting more silence in my life? I decided to take my cue from monastic life. Admittedly I don’t know much about monastic life. I know there are a variety of orders and religious life can be lived in a variety of ways. But I do know that it is not uncommon for monks and nuns to spend a portion of their day in silence. Of course, when silence is a requirement, it is probably easier to observe silence. I will have to work at finding ways to build silence into my days. Here’s my plan…
- Silence in my car. As I said, I’m in the car – A LOT. Usually there are kids with me, but there are sometimes golden moments during the day when I’m alone in the car. In 2015, I will not listen to the radio. Instead I will drive in silence and offer that time to God.
- Silence in my kitchen. I don’t have a radio or TV in my kitchen, so if I’m alone, it’s quiet while I’m cooking or doing dishes. But it’s not intentional quiet. This year I will make an effort to be aware of His presence and to listen for His still, small voice. Saint Francis of Rome once said, It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout .. but she must never forget that she is a housewife and sometimes must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping. In 2015, I will make an effort to find God in my housekeeping.
- Silence at the barn. If there is a time in my day when I am alone in the quiet of nature, it is when I tend my chickens and ducks. True the ducks are noisy but it’s a different noise than television, radio, or clamoring children. In 2015, I will give the silence of my farm chores to God. Perhaps I will find Him where the shepherds did – with the animals.
- Silence from my electronics. It’s a bad habit of mine to check my email or social media on my phone anytime I have a free minute – waiting for the kids in the car-rider line at school, standing in line at the store, even as a quick break in the middle of the housework. The fact is, sometimes those quick breaks in the day are the only chance I have to check email or Facebook or Twitter, but I will do so sparingly in 2015 and out of necessity – not mindless habit.
- Silence amid the noise. That’s a tricky one. In 2015, I will pray to find internal quiet when things get, as I know they will, crazy.
I know it won’t be easy. I’ll forget. I’ll get distracted. I’ll get bored. No I am not cut out for monastic life. Truthfully, it has never really appealed to me. Truthfully I like the busyness and craziness that is life with four kids. My life is full of blessings But in 2015, I will find time for silence amid my blessings.