We sit rocking on the green corduroy chair in my bedroom – the one with the green ribs down the arm that I run my fingerprints on when I pray. The room is dark. My daughter is cuddled in a ball on my lap, blanket over her face. I hear the whirling of the fan, the ticking of the clock, the murmur of my other kids’ voices beyond the closed door. Her breath starts steadying. Her eyes aren’t quite closed, but squint up at me.
In an unexpectedly bold voice, shattering the silence, she asks, “Is the Cat in the Hat a real person?” It’s been a while since Nonna had all the grandkids sleepover, and the entertainment of choice was The Cat in the Hat movie.
I wonder how long her little mind had been carrying around such a question. The silence helped this question rise to the surface. Her mind, sifting through all she’s curious about, decides she needs an answer to settle this query before she can rest.
It occurs to me that’s what silence does for us. The lack of external noise brings to the surface our ‘heart questions,’ what we’ve really been wrestling with. I just spoke to another mother who’s in a similar season of steady, hidden work. In the last two months we’ve found ourselves restless and wanting the distraction of service, ministry, work, something, anything to do. The silence, the quiet, and the steadiness of our vocation are bringing up in our hearts deeper questions that are begging to be answered like, “Am I enough?” and “Is what I’m doing enough?”
In this season, I’ve been cooking new recipes, attempting to use leftover sauces from slow cooked beef. After the meat is cooked, the sauce needs time to rest, which allows the grease to rise to the surface. I remember that separation of grease and sauce there in my chair, holding my half-asleep 5-year-old. I usually scrap and discard the grease. I wonder if my heart does that same separation when I’m still, quiet, and restful. Does the stuff that needs to be thrown away need to separate from that which is useful?
The next day my daughter wakes up from sleep, slowly and groggy, I’m sitting in my prayer chair again. She climbs up on my lap still desiring the warmth and comfort of her bed. I like morning cuddles. They are the best way to start the day, wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you and accepts you even in your sleepy stupor, with bad breath and bed head. They feel like the only suitable substitute for the rest and peace found in sleep.
I think of my morning prayer time as a morning cuddle with my Father. He holds my soul the same way I hold my babies, resting on my chest. I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me (Psalm 131:2).
I fight a spiritual battle daily in my home. Fighting for hearts that are whole and healed, well formed and know love. In my own heart the battle rages too. What thoughts do I believe? Which are lies? Which are truth?
Running my fingers down the green corduroy ribs, my heart settles into my Father’s arms – the one who loves and accepts me just as I am. The questions churning in my mind when I awoke surface, waiting to be addressed. The lies I believe rise like grease needing to be discarded: there’s not enough time today for all I need to do; I don’t have enough stamina to keep up with three busy children today.
Let me sit in silence with my Father so he can help separate the grease and throw out the lies.