October 2014 • Solitude


I have in the past several months spent every early morning on the screen porch of our new house. I awaken, usually at 6:00 a.m., and get up to face the day—alone with God. Birds are singing, and the light of the day is getting brighter. I have come to jealously guard this time of quiet every day. If I still feel sleepy at 6:00 a.m., I always think, as I ease out of bed, “I don’t want to miss my quiet time.” And I push through the early morning sleepiness until I get my hot coffee from my coffeemaker with the handy timer.

Usually I have a full 45 minutes to read and pray, or just to sit quietly, before my husband, Paul, stirs.

This is precious time for solitude before the busyness of the day intrudes. I have heard ministers say that they could not face the day without a similar quiet time. It keeps them, and me, as well as countless others, going full steam ahead in our sometimes busy lives. Now, after months of this new schedule, I would miss time alone if my schedule were to change.

It has not always been thus. I had long years of working in North Carolina and Minnesota, and, like most people, I had a stressful job. I remember sometimes awakening at 3:30 in the morning, retreating into our den, and rather frantically making “to do” lists for my job. That was the only way I could hope to get back to sleep. “Just write it down,” I would say to myself, “and then you won’t forget it.” Usually I would fill at least half a long yellow sheet with work-related tasks, and then, only then, relax enough to cut out the light and curl up on the sofa to spend the rest of the night.

I think about this contrast between then and now as I consider what I might have done to save myself all that anguish. Prayer would have helped then, too, and I did pray, upon occasion—but only after I had filled out my “to do” list.

I think about younger people now who are immersed in stressful lives. Would I have listened, prior to retirement, if somebody had tried to tell me that I was on a treadmill? Could I have changed anything? Would I have been willing to change anything?

No, the frantic pace of living marches steadily on. Time is our enemy when we are immersed in a career. And nobody can really tell us how to change. The blessings I know now in retirement would have not been desired by me at a younger age. I would have thought the pace too slow.

But maybe if I had chosen to take an hour’s quiet time every morning, there wouldn’t have been so many wake-ups at 3:30 in the morning. Quiet time prioritizes the day. It now sets my mind above the fray.

Oh, what blessings I denied myself when earning a living! If only my older and wiser self would have somehow counseled my younger self to slow down, let go, and let God.

#celiahales

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