Everyone in my family enjoys camping. However, when the choice arises for me to join them on a camping trip with hundreds of other scouts or stay home alone, I choose stay home alone every time.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of being home alone for a whole weekend while my family traveled on their first campout since quarantine began.
We are all hilarious before a scout camp out. My son Paul can’t find his river shoes. My husband Adam can only find one AA battery in the kitchen drawer. My daughter Claire packs efficiently but wants me to go over her packing with her to make sure she didn’t miss anything. When anxiety is at its highest and they are all running around the house throwing essentials in their footlockers, I choose that time to make a list of everything I will do in the 36 hours they are gone.
My list included: working out multiple times, catching up all the laundry, watching three movies, reading three books, baking cookies, eating salad, journaling, and working on my learning to draw book. I also hoped to dust all the fans, vacuum, and organize my desk.
On Friday afternoon, all my favorite people piled into the family vehicle, I kissed them, waved bye, and the dog and I took a long sigh of relief. Then I sat down and got to work. I started reading my first book of the weekend, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. I was learning how my body holds in stress and how completing stress cycles helps release stress from my physical body. The book also talks about our self-talk and learning to take care of ourselves by listening to ourselves.
By Saturday afternoon I finished that book and started another. This time it was Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen talks about how God wants to find a home in us and the answers we seek are found inside of us. At this point, I had read half of this book and taken about half a journal’s worth of notes. Both books offered practical advice, and I wanted to absorb the knowledge. Also, the Nouwen book was only the second book of the weekend. The plan was to read three.
But then I stopped and laughed at myself. Both of these books were telling me the same message. Did I really need to rush through the rest of this book, and read a third book to take even more notes and arrive at the understanding that I needed to look inside for peace and wisdom?
I often feel like I am on a hamster wheel of productivity and accomplishment. My body knows that. My heart, however, craves stopping and listening. In recognizing my time alone as precious and rare, I had doubled my expectations for myself. I didn’t want to waste a second, so I was reading as fast as I could and taking as many notes as I could. But when I paused and flipped back through the notes I had taken, they all seemed to be pointing in the same direction.
Peace is inside.
God is inside.
I was working hard externally to find peace internally. I wanted to learn all the wisdom and achieve all the accomplishments in one weekend by myself. It was like I had opened the top of my head and was trying to cram more and more into it.
Luckily, I finally received the message I was seeking.
I put the book down. I picked up my journal and started writing what was already inside.
I went for a walk. I stretched my body with a yoga workout. I prayed.
I marveled at the beautiful weather. I laughed at my silliness. Since I was a small child, I knew that God was everywhere, including inside my heart. I have a brand new Master of Divinity degree. I know the Divine is inside each of us!
But I had been distracted. My family wasn’t around, so I had unintentionally filled the quiet with noise from my own head. Luckily I still had time to enjoy the peace. Luckily I still had time to listen.
Sometimes as adults, we take for granted what we learned as kids. Sometimes we forget that the knowledge and skills we have acquired in our lifetime do not negate what we learned as a small child in our heart.
We can read as many books as we want (and I highly recommend the two listed in this blog), but the truth is already there. God is already inside of us. We are already home.
This week, I challenge you to sit and listen. What are some truths about God that your heart knows but your head distracts you from? What holy wisdom did you learn as a child that still holds true today?
Send me an email! I’d love to hear your wisdom! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org