ďBut, first a hush of peaceóa soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress, and fierce impatience ends;
Mute music soothes my breastóunuttered harmony,
That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.Ē **
Itís 4 a.m.; so quiet I can hear my heart beat. Iím alone in my favorite chair, an afghan over my legs. The world outside is silent, punctuated only by the occasional barking dog. The cup of tea sitting on the table beside me is just hot enough to simultaneously warm and stimulate. The ever present stack of books stand as a sentry over my space, guarding me from intruders. A reading lamp the only light provides a snug haven against the black void surrounding me. Everyone in the house is asleep. This is my time.
Solitude allows my mind to focus, to assess without emotion, to pray and to hear Godís voice. Even though I may begin my quiet time in an agitated or distracted manner, I rarely end it the same way. You see stillness is not for Godís benefit. He doesnít suffer from distraction; He hears all of us all the time. Being quiet and still and focused is for us: so we can hear Him.
The room is cooler than normal, contrasting beautifully with the hot tea and warm afghan. Today is starting out smoothly: so far there are no gales on the horizon. The absence of sound gives way to the lively dialogue between the characters of my book, a dialogue my brain automatically joins. Iím transported in time and place as the story unfolds. God can use the text of any book to make a point, clear my cloudy thinking, calm the squalls and move me out of any self-imposed traps. Itís up to me to recognize His messages.
My father used to call it ďtaking a mental vacation.Ē He could be completely alone in a crowded room. I have come to recognize this time in my day as ďother worldlinessĒ or ethereal contemplation. My mind is never as clear or as sharp. Instead of just a mental vacation, I covet closeness with God found only when I am lost to this world.
The first sliver of light appears timidly through the blinds. My heart beats a little faster and my brain recognizes how little time is left in todayís extraterrestrial trip. The story Iím reading draws me in deeper, not wanting me to leave until we have both finished. I inhabit the world of the text for a little longer. A noise pulls me back; someone is waking. I can no longer deny the inevitable: I must prepare for touchdown and a return to the everyday on this world.
That sliver of light has enlarged enough to illuminate the entire room. My world is now much larger, no longer bounded by my chair or the sphere of light from the reading lamp. Many more sounds assault my ears, requiring my brain to interpret and respond, file away or forget. The cool room is no longer comfortable as I become physically aware of the cold. Unfortunately I no longer hear my heart beat.
I move from deep introspection to expectation, a transition from solitary stillness to another busy day. I hear my family waking to join that day. Iím more than ready to receive them now that I have prepared through Godís grace. Tomorrow Iíll join God, my favorite chair with afghan, a cup of tea and a good book for another serene beginning. Iíll hear my heart beat and hopefully Godís voice.
*Doldrums: area around the earth centered slightly north of the equator between the two belts of trade winds. Large amounts of solar radiation in this area causes intense heating leading to weather extremes such as hurricanes and calm periods that trap sailing vessels for days or weeks. (Columbia Encyclopedia)
**Emily Bronte (1818-1848); The Prisoner (l. 13-19).
Total Word Count: 656
Body Word Count: 563
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