I sit here on this very first day of a brand new year, sipping my coffee in a favorite cup (they’re all my favorites) and reflecting on all that the recent years have brought. I wonder with some excitement–and I confess a little bit of fear–what will this new year bring?
I try to effectively paint a word picture to describe the last two years, and the only way I can think to describe it is to imagine this full coffee cup being buckled into the seat of a tilt-a-whirl at the county fair and spinning, spinning, spinning through all the noise and music and crazy of the fair. Tilting and whirling, splashing and sliding and bouncing and crashing against the sides of the seat, until the music suddenly quiets, the ride jerks to a sudden stop, and the cup goes flying, spinning to a stop on the pavement.
The chattering people waiting for the ride glance at the damaged cup, then rush to find their own seats. One person picks it up and moves it to the side. Another gives it a kick out of their way.
What would be the condition of the cup after this long, long ride and dramatic stop? If it hasn’t shattered, it is at the very least chipped in places, cracked in others, the artwork is probably scratched, and while it may still hold some liquid, it most likely has a slow leak.
If I were that cup, I would need to be carefully picked up with two hands and gingerly carried to a steady place that doesn’t move–a place where the carnival music isn’t playing, the room isn’t spinning, the voices aren’t yelling, and nobody is in immediate need of a drink of coffee from me.
I would need those two calm and skillful hands to patiently put me back together, filling all of the cracks–even the hairline cracks that aren’t noticeable–and then let me sit in the quiet and the stillness until the glue is set and the finish is sealed.
I know that is a pretty absurd word picture, but much like that imaginary cup, I have been feeling more and more over the last few months the need for a time of repair, rebuilding, and stillness in my life. I don’t mean I need a time of isolation or anything like that. But I do need to turn off the carnival music, so to speak. Turn the volume of outside voices and opinions and speculations waaay, way down. Make room for some stillness and restoration to pour in.
I have a few strategies in mind to help me with this, but mainly I am just planning to view it in much the same way as I would view getting physically healthy. If I wanted to lose weight or tone up, I would limit sugar and processed foods and fill my body with whole foods, fresh produce, and plenty of water while getting more exercise.
In this case, I need to limit unnecessary noise, pointless drama, vocal clutter, useless information, and social media distractions and instead fill my mind with healthy conversations, healing music, and real information that exercises my mind and promotes spiritual growth. Bible reading and prayer are already a regular part of my routine, but I am feeling the need for more. Psalm 46:10 is calling my name.
Last year, I had a generic goal to “read more real books” and I am happy to say that I did! In addition to homeschooling material, I read six whole books. Be impressed. 😉
Initially, I thought I would set a goal of doubling that number to twelve, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I eliminated all the unnecessary and noisy “junk food” that fills my day on a regular basis, I could easily read a book a week and double my Bible study time.
Which brings me to the title of this post. 52 weeks of Stillness. Not sitting still and doing nothing. Not hiding out or cutting myself off from the outside. But turning the noise way down, slowing down the spin to a steady and productive pace, and filling the stillness with knowledge.
(Be still and know…)
I’ve begun by deleting all of the distracting apps off of my phone and limiting myself to a Kindle app, writing apps, and study apps. I’ve banished all social media to an actual computer that I have to physically turn on and boot up and connect to wifi. It’s still there and I’ll still need to use it, but it won’t be so loud.
A book a week. Maybe I’ll read more, maybe I’ll read less. I might fall behind but that’s okay. This isn’t a perfection-seeking goal. I’ll share on here what I’m reading.
And speaking of sharing, the majority of my sharing will be here on my blog and not on Facebook, for no other reason but that Facebook is noisy and dizzy and kicky. (That’s a word, I think.) I need the tilt-a-whirl and kicking crowds to spin and yell somewhere else for a while.
A year of stillness. I’m looking forward to this new year and what God will do with it.
Happy (quiet) New Year everyone!