Tag Archives: quiet time

Different Routes

There are two different routes I take to work on any given day. One, the freeway; fast, efficient, crowded, plain.  The other, “the back way”; slower, open, scenic, calming.  Which one do you think I prefer?

Yup, I’m a back way kinda guy.  Plus it’s got trains!  The main BNSF train route runs parallel to the highway all the way into Spokane. I love that; looking on in awe as I’m passing one of these behemoths, amazed at the size, power and raw beauty of the iron horses and their cargo.

Passing one the other day got me thinking about . . . sunsets.

A Summer sunset from my back deck

I also love watching sunsets, for pretty much the same reasons I love watching the trains. It never ceases to amaze me, the size, power and raw beauty of these displays; the colors, the grace, the brilliance.  My wife doesn’t understand how I can sit out on the back deck, alone, quietly watching nature.  I used to say it was probably a guy thing. Several women I work with, when I’ve talked to them with the “my wife just doesn’t understand when I do this” talk, would shake their heads and go, “Yeah, my husband can do the same thing. I don’t get it either.”

Ah, women . . .

For me, I think I like to live in a continual state of awe for the simple beauty and wonder that surrounds each of us every single day.  From the myriads of colors shining within the leaves of a tree as it slowly gives way to fall’s emerging chill, to the sheer power and might of a mile long train racing towards some unknown destination at sixty+ miles an hour.

I hope I never get tired of it.

It’s like, I love to travel, yet I constantly remind myself that I already live in a “resort” town up here in little ol’ Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. People come from all over the world to experience the peace and beauty of nature and all its inherent pleasures (are you listening skiers, hikers, backpackers . . . and now, triatheletes?).  It’s magnificence that we, who live here, are surrounded with everyday.  Beautiful lakes? They’re here.  Scenic hiking trails? They’re here.  Endless forest land? Here. Majestic ski runs? Yup, right here: Always has been.

But when was the last time the majority of us who live up in this area really saw them?

Why do you suppose that is?

What are we doing instead?

At the pace we choose to live our lives, at the growing pace of the technology we choose to use, it’s an easy prospect to lose focus on the “simple things” we have surrounding us yet never choose to notice (as our noses are firmly planted in the screens of our Iphones, laptops and pad computers).

And THAT’S why I can sit out on my back deck for endless stretches of time, seemingly looking at nothing in particular and everything at once.  It’s the kid in me.  It’s the wonderer, and wanderer in me.  It’s the choosing to slow my pace, and . . . see.

Psalms 39:6 We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.  We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.

Psalm 107:29-30 He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. 

A Need for Quiet

I won’t lie. I get some of my best ideas in the shower. I’ll bet you can relate. There’s just something about the hot water, the steam, the relaxing sensation of the water on your skin. What is it about that span of time that makes it so conducive to a free flow of imagination?

It’s mindless for one. I’ve washed myself enough times that I don’t really have to think about the process anymore. (And if I do, there’s something seriously wrong with me.) So the mind tends to wander; freed from the mundane tasks of everyday life; of figuring out what to do at this moment, and this moment, now this moment, etc.

For me, it’s the same with driving to and from work on a daily basis. Some of my favorite times in driving are when I turn off the radio, open up the sunroof, crack the windows, and I’m just . . . thinkin’.

–Okay, off topic for a second. I’ve got Pink Floyd’s “Money” playing on Pandora right now (Pandora btw, is the best thing EVER to happen to the internet!) and Gilmour’s solo in that song is his second best ever . . . here it comes, I’ll be right back . . .

Aahhh . . . Okay, I’m back. And see, there’s my point right there; you can’t seem to concentrate unless there’s a minimum of distraction—both external and internal.

Did you know that a “quiet time”—call it meditation, prayer, astral projection, whatever—is one of the few things that pretty much every religion has in common. That’s the one thing the founders and purveyors of every religious faith, every spiritual belief, got right . . .

We need quiet time.

But, how do we get that?

What if we start with just a couple minutes?

Next time you’re driving by yourself, try to clear your mind for a brief span. Turn off the tunes and just see the road as it unfurls in front of you and into the distance. Next time you’re in the shower, instead of thinking about the day ahead or the day just ended; clear your head and watch the steam rising, swirling into a montage of designs, making its way past the water stream and into the lights. It’s in times like these that I notice my thought patterns shift from rapid fire gottadothisgottadothisgottagottagotta to more of a conversation; “I’ve got to do this . . . Well, if you do that, you might try it this way . . . Hmm, that’s pretty good and you know this might work too.” And on it goes.

I think that too often, when we seek to spend a little “time to ourselves”, we try to make our quiet time DO something. After all, we have to feel like we accomplished something in all that time we spent doing, essentially, nothing.

Kinda not the point, is it?

In fact, I’ve grown accustomed at times when I pray not really saying . . . anything: Just being quiet; still. God knows my heart already. He knows my wants, needs and desires—and there are times that I definitely put voice to them. But there are also times when I just want to listen, to clear my head and see if God has anything He wants to say to me. Most times it just is what it is . . . a quiet time. Then there are times, like in the car or in the shower, that a thought will occur, an idea will strike, and it will be so complete, so fully formed and so right, that I don’t think it could’ve come from anyone else.

What I find funny is usually these particular thoughts have nothing to do with bettering myself or my situation. Usually they have to do with conveying an impression, an action, or an idea for the betterment of someone else; something to tell my wife or something that solves a problem at work, maybe something I feel convicted to express in my writing.

Sure, you can say in a situation like that, that it was your own, or my own, personal brilliance; and it very well may have been. But what if . . .

What if there’s a genuine necessity to a quiet time?

What if there’s a true purpose behind it?

What if it’s a higher purpose?

What have you got to lose in trying?