As I mowed the farmyard, circling round and round the blossoming plum trees, I pondered, hard. Maybe it was time.
The questions were spurred by a quote Shawn Smucker shared on Facebook.
This, then, is what it means to seek God perfectly…to rest in humility and to find peace in withdrawal from conflict and competition with other men; to turn aside from controversy and put away heavy loads of judgment and censorship and criticism and the whole burden of opinions that I have no obligation to carry… — Thomas Merton
Merton’s words have always been a salve to me, a songline, a whitewashed road marker for life. I have read him since I was in college and came across his essays on pacifism. I wrote my critical paper for my MFA on his ideas of silence. I read him now when I need to center, to find my way back.
When Shawn’s post came through yesterday, I sighed. Heard. Stepped back.
I had just had a very painful interchange with a man whose sexist attitudes made me angry and banged hard against the scars of my life. I was shaking. I needed to be reminded that it is now my burden to carry everyone’s opinions. To be called to consider that maybe the best thing is to turn aside from controversy.
I mulled the quote through my afternoon, and when I got to Vulcan, the tractor, I was ready for some good hard thinking time – mowing an acre gives you that. I pondered. I prayed. I raged just a little.
I considered giving up this blog, putting the energy into my books.
Then, I reconsidered because this blog is truly my kickstart for a day of writing.
Then, I tri-considered – maybe I could just do morning pages.
Then, I came to this whisper – it’s not all or nothing, Andi. It’s not all or nothing.
Today, I sit with the mountains shrouded in low clouds, the limest of greens skirting the trees.
Today, I walk the mossy mountain with Meander, and I feel quiet.
I need more. I need more of this.
I will blog. Sometimes quiet. Sometimes like the thunderstorm that pounded the farmhouse last night. I need both. The silence and the speech.
And I will come away more, to the softness of moss and clouds. To the quiet dance of a robin in the plum. To the grace of Meander’s snuffle as we walk.
To the quiet, where the burdens are air and the voices sing.
I will keep silence more.
Do you need more silence? More speech? How do you find that balance?
Today, I’ll be sending out my monthly newsletter. If you would like to receive it, be sure to check the “newsletter” box in the upper right-hand corner of this page. This month, I’m giving away a free seat in one of my online writing classes, some free books, and a secret surprise.