It was the week of my forty-seventh birthday. I had booked a cabin in the middle of nowhere, on a sheep farm no less. For the first time in my life I would spend my birthday alone.
The kids were fine with it. They knew this had simply worked out to be the best block of time for me to go on a writing retreat. Between school/sports/work/dance/graduation/recital and laundry, y’all, I didn’t exactly have lots of weekends begging me to go away and watch the sun rise and set for three days!
So on Memorial day I hit the road. I had about a four hour drive ahead of me and determined to make it count. I stopped when I wanted to stop, ate when (and what!) I wanted to eat, and took advantage of every scenic overlook in the Blue Ridge Mountains to bask in the wonder of creation.
I won’t go into detail, but I will tell you that it was the slowest yet busiest three days I’ve ever spent. Busy?
Well, yes. Busy being not busy.
Because choosing to not be busy turns out to keep one’s mind very busy.
I turned off all social media. My ringer stayed on in case one of the kids needed to get hold of me. (I have a certain child who worries and needs to check in periodically) I settled into the beautifully restored cabin and didn’t even turn on the a/c. Due to the altitude and gentle breeze, I didn’t need it. The only sounds I heard were sheep, chickens, birds and barking dogs.
It was glorious.
I wrote like a mad woman. Page after page, dumping my brain onto the blank screen and acting as my own therapist. I finished the first edit of my novel, readying it for the “real” editor who would do the final cleanup. I prayed, I ate chocolate, and I slept like a baby.
The most surprising thing to me was the effect the electronic detox had on my thought life. It took hours-from the time I arrived at the cabin in mid-afternoon until I fell asleep-for my mind to calm down. I battled racing thoughts, not fears or worries, just a brain that refused to be quiet and had grown too accustomed to constant input. I found peace at last and was able to truly settle into prayer and read without feeling like I needed to get up and do something every few minutes.
I noticed every detail of the cabin, the land around it, and the sky above. I listened to the music of nature, tractors pulling hay-cutting equipment then baling it the next day, sheep and chickens going about their business and the farmer taking slow walks out into the pasture throughout the day to check on his wooly charges. I watched a puppy snap at a snake then yelp when the snake lunged at him. (Thankfully it missed.) I noticed butterflies and bluebirds, dragonflies and wasps, and I lit a candle in the lantern on the rickety table out back as I ate my dinner.
How much do I miss in the business of real life? I’ll admit I’ve fallen back into old habits. I enjoy social media, probably too much, and have determined to reign it in as I begin my Theology and Apologetics classes. (Which I absolutely love…I’ll elaborate in a future post.) I am spending more time reading and less time scrolling, yet still my mind struggles to settle down and find a home on the pages before me.
But I’ve experienced the quiet, now. I’ve felt the peace of a settled heart and a mind at rest. I’ve slept the sleep of a body that has shed the day’s burdens and settled between the crisp white sheets of a plush, cozy bed. I’ve lived three days with the only busyness being that of a woman focused on better communion with my Lord and letting some things go.
Though I know it is not realistic to experience that level of quiet in my normal day to day, I believe God wants me to cherish the nuggets when I can. He calls me to be still and know. He beckons me to come away and let him remind me that I am his beloved and He is mine.
He admonishes me to turn off the glowing rectangle in my hand or on my lap and grasp the heavy pages of His love letter to me, letting the words penetrate my mind and quieten my soul.
May I listen. May we listen to the still, small voice that beckons us to come and drink of the living water. He offers true rest, for in that place of rest we will be renewed and restored.
I cannot give my family what I do not possess. Peace begets peace. Quiet begets quiet. Gentleness begets gentleness.
Time with Him, removed from all distractions, makes me a better wife and mom. It also makes me a better daughter of the King. He filled my cup and will continue to do so if I will but sit and soak in His presence, averting my gaze from the cares and distractions of this world and focusing in on the One who died for me. He will fill my cup to overflowing and the overflow will spill onto those I love the most.
In quietness and rest is my strength. May I remember this important truth when storms threaten and I’m tempted to fret instead of drawing close to my Father.