Tag Archives: solitude

When Hummingbirds Argue

Jesus was a master storyteller. He loved tackling tough topics with stories about common things that every one could relate to. Lots of time he wouldn’t even try to explain what he was talking about. He would just tell his story about the crops, the wedding, the farmer or the feast and leave it there, trusting people to figure it out. It’s kind of funny when you read scripture knowing this because you can see how many people didn’t get his parables. This didn’t seem to bother Jesus at all. He just kept telling stories.

I like to preach like that. It’s especially fun when I’m not even sure about the full point of the story I’m telling. Sometimes, as the storyteller, you have to trust that the listener will glean more from the story than you could even imagine. It’s an exercise in trust.

Last week, I purposely spent the week alone, away from my usual distractions. I wanted to do this because I believe it is a good spiritual exercise to learn to be alone with yourself and your thoughts.  I also wanted to get some writing done for a couple of upcoming projects.

At first, I had to struggle with the usual discomfort of hanging out with myself. I found I talked to my dog a lot. She didn’t say much. After a while, I listened better to other things: the sound of the wind, a storm rolling in, the difference in the birds morning noises and how they sang in the evenings. After a day or so, I started paying more attention to the hummingbirds and the buzz they made when they whirred by.

Then, I got pretty good at noticing their chirping. Mostly, though, they just argued. They had access to three full feeders. There was plenty of room around the base of each feeder for 4 or 5 to land at once and feed (They do land, by the way). The hummingbirds would have no part of group dining. They dive bombed each other and argued all week about who should feast at any given time.

There was plenty of food and plenty of room for every hummingbird. Instead they argued. Soon some started posting on social media about how fed up they were with each other and how offended they were by the stance of their fellow hummingbirds. Video clips were shared of who was right and who was wrong. Whole news channels popped up around each differing hummingbird point of view. The leader type hummingbirds spoke out and made everything worse. Protests began. Outrage was high. Pretty soon they didn’t even treat each other like hummingbirds, but enemies.

All along, my dog and I just shook our heads and wondered why those silly hummingbirds couldn’t see The Truth more clearly.

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Re-Entry

So, we arrived home last night.  My husband had to work first thing this morning.  I luckily, have a cushion day in which do buy groceries, do laundry and such.  I also took some time to answer a few emails, get a few things on the calendar for this week and next week.

My boys both left for other activities today so finally, back to silence.  What I learned from my silent time:

I really do need it.

It is really refreshing.

I like having long spans of time with nothing I have to do.

I really enjoy God’s handiwork out there.

Silence and solitude ought not to be a once every decade or so thing…it ought to be something I figure out a way to weave into the daily fabric of things. 

I have much to be grateful for…much.

Last Day

My family arrives late tonight. Solitude soon over. I’ve been sitting still so long the animals aren’t afraid of me. I’m like Dr. Doolittle or something.

This morning a tiny bird landed about three feet from me and started singing. He was so little but so loud, like surround sound. A giant brown shiny lizard made himself known. Yesterday I counted 10 light blue dragonflies using me as their mother ship as I lounged in the lake. I met a grasshopper as he smacked into my leg. I didn’t stay still for that. I met a turtle on my walk. He didn’t trust me and retreated into his shell. I wish we all had a retreat house on our backs.

i believe God really does speak to us in and through creation. In fact, I’m starting to think God enjoys showing off all those sights, sounds, colors and creatures. What a show!

I’m ready to see the human creatures who I share life with. Solitude is good. So is family-animal and human.

Solitude Day 2 1/2

Still enjoying my own company. I had no idea I was so pleasant to be around. Except for that part of me that works at the church 24/7. She woke up at two a.m. pondering church things that could surely wait.

I amuse myself in solitude. Even though I purposely planned these unstructured days, I keep a to-do list:

write

rest

hang out at lake

walk

read

I still check things off too. How much solitude would I need to be able to give up my list?

I talk to myself in solitude. And, I’m funny. This morning on my walk I saw a deer. I said, “I see you!.” She was rude and didn’t say anything. I also thanked a tree for some shade. She also did not reply. See how funny I am? Seriously I’m fine.

Yesterday I got to sit on the screened in porch-actually I was reclining -there’s a bed there. I know, I’m blessed. Anyway I got to watch a storm roll in.  It took about two hours and was like a good movie with almost all my senses engaged. I’ve never done that before. Even my bird friends got quiet for awhile-everyone seemed to be watching the same movie.

I’ve read three full books already, plenty of magazines too. I’ve worked lots of crosswords. I still have my phone and of course Words With Friends. In true solitude, I think you are to let go of all of that. Thank goodness I’m not that nutsy radical yet. 

So far, I still like myself. Maybe tomorrow I will get on my own nerves but not today. I have way too much solitude on my to-do list to enjoy now.

Silence Isn’t Silent

We have friends with a lakehouse. We were friends long before the lakehouse by the way. Recently they offered me a gift, “Come stay by yourself at the lakehouse for a few days before our families gather here.”

I could not resist. I crave quiet. I enjoy solitude. I think better, relax better, write better, pray better in the quiet.

As I packed up for my days alone, a tiny bit of anxiety emerged. What if I didn’t like silence as much as I thought? What if I’m not as enjoyable to be with as I think I am?

I reasoned with myself, that is the point of the spiritual discipline, to stick it out even when it isn’t comfortable.

I arrived last night. Temps are in the 70’s. I sat staring at the lake all evening; watched the sunset in pinks and blues. Just looking at a waterline is reported to reduce stress. I believe it.

This morning, I’m back to staring but also listening. Silence isn’t silent. I hear:

Birds singing all kinds of songs with a duck chiming in at awkward times.

WindImage

 

 

Hummingbirds gripe at each other as they fly.

Fishermen way down on the water, talking softly as they fish.

A woodpecker.

Squirrels arguing.

And this is funny, the only neighbor in the near vacinity, either learning to play the violin or listening to a cd of someone learning to play the violin. And I am struck by my ability to be annoyed by the one person within my hearing range.

Today’s  revelation: silence isn’t silent. It is layer after layer of God’s created ones doing their thing-singing, arguing, talking, playing the violin badly. Creation, noise, and in it and through it, God.

I’m blessed today to be able to listen for a change.

And my favorite sound, the gripey hummingbirds. Who knew?