Posted tagged ‘peace and quiet’

Recovering From Vacation

March 31, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                 March 31, 2019

                        

Vacations are tragically funny! We long for the excitement and happiness that the advertisements seem to convey and come back home exhausted in our search for them.

Let me say this up front! The best parts about vacations are either the deepening of relationships or the experience of being embraced by peace. 

When I reflect on journeys that are the most memorable I think of being with either family or friends. The destination was secondary in importance. Memories of conversations and humorous happenings rise to the top. For example, three years ago my wife, Carol, and I took a road trip from Colorado to southern Ohio. We went to a couple of Presidential Libraries (Eisenhower and Truman) on the trip east, which were interesting, but what we’ll remember is surprising our nephew, Eric, on Sunday morning when we showed up in worship at the church he pastors In Bethalto, Illinois, and then surprising my brother at the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery outside of Frankfort, Kentucky where he is a tour guide, and then being in Proctorville, Ohio for my dad’s 88th birthday celebration. Those are the moments that stand out. 

And peace! Like the sound of ocean waves as a person stands on the shore is the embracing of peace that some vacations offer. It’s the feel of a gentle breeze touching your soul, an absence of noise and clutter that allows the person to hear the whisperings of God and the beauty of silence. In our culture quiet moments are under appreciated and yet vitally important!

We returned from our most recent vacation late last night. We went to The Magic Kingdom where peace and rest are like alien creatures. Once again, the best part involved the deepening of relationships- going with our oldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids. The magical moments were connected to them: seeing the grandkids playing in the pool with a couple of children from Brazil and listening to how they connected across Portuguese and English language barriers, watching the personalities of the grandkids emerge in their distinctive differences, and taking long walks around the Orange County Convention Center with Carol.

The frustration of air travel, the crowds of people, the price gouging of $25 just to park at Disney, and the spike in Disney food prices were all dampers on the experience. I mean…really, do I need to pay $6.00 for an ice cream bar shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head image, or $9.00 for a plain hot dog?

So why is the Magic Kingdom so popular, so overcrowded? Perhaps it’s because many of us think there is something offered there that our lives are lacking. Or perhaps it’s the other way around…our lives are lacking and we are hoping that a visit to a place that features a castle with stardust above it will fill that void.

The other interesting thing I noticed at Disney revolved around the number of people who had their faces buried in their cell phones as they waited in line or as they walked through the park. It’s as if we want to go on a magical journey, but can’t quite let go of the world we live in.

And so we arrived home last night- actually 12:30 in the morning- to recover from the crowds and the chaos and return to the “ho-humness” of our routines. We return from vacation to our vocations remembering…not the rides and attractions, but rather the conversations and chuckles.

The chuckles, however, will end when I received my next credit card statement! It will tell me we can’t afford another vacation for a long, long while, and there’s something, like I said in the first sentence, tragically funny about that!

Gathering in Silence

March 7, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     March 7, 2014

 

                                    

 

Silence is golden…and increasingly uncomfortable, it seems! People are putting down $300 for headphones that will allow them to keep the noise in…their “noise preference”, that is!

There’s a reason why we wish for “peace and quiet.” The two are often linked together.

And yet, we live in a noisy world that elevates sounds and echoes and voices…and has a hard time knowing how to handle silence.

Millions watch “The Voice” each week. Nascar has a following of even more than that, as people flock to the raceways to cheer at the sounds of the engines revving.

Last Sunday I did a children’s story before the congregation received communion. I talked about the meaning of the elements…the bread and the cup…and asked the children to be extra quiet and still as we took communion that morning. We didn’t filter the silence with music…we just kept quiet. I’ve never had a communion experience quite like that! There was complete silence as we gathered together around the Lord’s table. it was…good!

A friend of mine recently made the comment that the silence of God sometimes brings people together.

We wait for a word, a leading, a whisper.

The noise has a way of drowning out lips that are sealed. We believe that God is ever-moving, and, as a result of that, we erroneously think that there must be constant chatter and loud praise.

A scripture that always has intrigued me comes at the end of Genesis 16 and the first verse of Genesis 17. I won’t quote it here, but simply say that it indicates a gap of thirteen years in Abram’s life. God had promised Abram that he was going to father a great nation, but things weren’t happening quick enough. Sarai wasn’t getting pregnant and neither of them was getting any younger, so they took things into their own hands and brought in Hagar to be a substitute wife. They could only trust God so long with what was going on. The emptyness of Sarai’s womb was too much silence for them to handle.

And so God was “silent” for thirteen years to further help them to realize that HE was going to bring a son into the lives of Abram and Sarai. Abram means “exalted father.” Abraham means “father of many.” Thirteen years of silence can bring us to a more attentive place, and God strengthened that listening by changing a name.

Sometimes God seems to be silent in our churches and in our lives, and we panic and begun to orchestrate holy moments. And yet, it is in the silence that we can quite often go to a deeper search…a testing of our faith…a point of confession and repentance. It’s a pathway through the wilderness, and yet we are hesitant to proceed.

Quite often I ask a question of a men’s group that I lead. The flow of conversation about pro football, hunting, new car models, and building projects has been going non-stop…and then the pastor interrupts the warmness, the male bonding, by asking the question “So what has God been doing in your life?” Or “What’s God been saying to you ?”

Silence invades the conversation. I realize that it is easier, and not as threatening, to talk about Cabela’s and outdoor grills than holy conversations, but the quiet that follows the question is deafening.

Some of our most meaningful times together have then flowed out of that question that is allowed to simmer for a bit.

Silence does end up leading us to the gold.