The past two weeks in Fort Worth have been a little slower and quieter.
We've been on the receiving end of two winter storms.
Texas isn't equipped like our neighbors to the north. We don't have a fleet of snow plows and salt trucks, no seasonal workers equipped to clear parking lots and shovel sidewalks. So, we are rendered helpless. Stuck.
And we wait for the thaw.
I enjoy the wait. I enjoy being home, even if I am working.
My children are young, and delightful to observe. They enjoy television (Wild Kratts, Curious George, and Thomas the Train Engine are favorites), and will gladly watch movies. But they also play with one another. David led everyone around, pretending to be the engine of a train. Joy arranged pillows and gave gymnastics performances. They included Molly and me, if not as primary actors, then as spectators.
On Friday morning, as snowfall in our neighborhood exceeded the projected totals our family decided we would remain indoors. No trips to the store or gym for us. The television was off. Joy began an art project. David was in his room, playing with his cars. Molly was in our bedroom putting things away. I was in the guest bedroom, writing. And I heard Joy say, "It's so quiet around here."
And I thought, "Yes, it most certainly is."
The residual noise had faded. Fewer cars on neighborhood roadways. Less traffic on major highways. Wildlife, tucked away, preserving energy. Our phones did not ring.
Quiet invigorated our activity, engagement, and focus. There was creativity and play and work taking place. Quiet was an enhancement, a welcome change, thanks to forces beyond our control.
Many of us say we desire quiet, but we do not seek it. We tell friends and neighbors we want rest, but our actions belie us. We want busyness.
But quiet is good for the soul. Sediment and dust settles. The Spirit leads us; attention sharpens. By God's grace, of course.
Quiet is a great context for learning, for growth. It is a wonderful context for listening.
For in the quiet moments, I have been reminded that my life is a blessed outcome of God's good will. The lessons wrought from my little life, the ones I have learned well, have come under the instruction of Jesus the Nazarene, the Blessed One.
In these last days, I saw afresh that Molly is a gift from above, that my children are so very precious. Both, together, have made me more gentle and kind, and though I am still learning the meaning of virtue, I find myself better with them than I would be without them. Marriage, fatherhood, are avenues for moral and spiritual formation.
I have also been affirmed in my calling, to serve others as part of a congregation. My love for the church has grown, and not in the abstract. At first, I regarded church as theory, and reveled in theology. But now, I marvel at people, and the gritty nature of grace upon grace, working itself out in handshakes and smiles, hard work and good humor, truth telling and comfort. For all the flak the church receives, some deservedly so, she is quite a beauty. Academicians and theologians should serve her well, but they are not the only servants, and only a part. We need good pastors and leaders. We need saints, young and old.
These are thoughts I would not have had if not for the quiet, for the slowness. The God of grace, working always, even in the busy, but profoundly in the quiet, teaching lessons and dispensing wisdom, even to those, like me, who are slow to learn.