Our theme for this year is “cultivate a quiet life.” When that mantra of sorts came to me, I had no clear idea of what it meant or how to get there. So, I started with baby steps, like asking, “What does it even mean?” I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now, so I figure it’s about time to break out the dictionary to be sure the word means what I think it means.
Here’s what merriam-webster.com has to say about the word “cultivate”: “to cultivate” means to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops; to foster the growth of; to improve by labor, care, or study; to further or encourage; or to seek the society of.
So a quiet life is something that must be nurtured. Like an abundant crop – or just keeping my house plants alive! – it’s not something that happens spontaneously. It’s going to take some effort. It’s intentional. Like decluttering bookshelves and organizing my oils. Or, the way Phil arranges a special dinner with a Mediterranean flare.
Even simple things like these don’t just happen. This resonated with me, so I decided to keep on with the dictionary. Turns out “quiet” is defined as something marked by little or no motion or activity; gentle, easygoing; not interfered with; enjoyed in peace and relaxation; free from noise or uproar; still; secluded.
This is the 21st century, right? Very little seems marked by little or no activity these days. Just scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook or skimming the news headlines makes me dizzy sometimes. So many things to think about. So many people to care for. So much information to filter. Quiet is a choice, and I’m realizing it’s going to involve saying no to things in order to create the space to think, care about, and embrace the things and the people that matter most to me. Like, time with this girl, the first of our local nieces and nephews to join us in 2017 for an “Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil Weekend.”
Yikes! “No” is hard for me on a lot of levels. “No” probably needs her own post … or three, because why it’s hard is complex. It’s just a word, right? But for me it’s packed with enough bad theology and emotional baggage to sour the best Merlot.
“Life” has a whole slew of definitions in the dictionary. At least 20 in the version I read, so I just picked out the couple that seemed to fit best with this concept I’m trying to understand. Life is a way or manner of living; it’s also the form or pattern of something that exists in reality as opposed to something just theoretical.
So, to cultivate a quiet life is going to involve some decisions on my part.
That day in the cabin when God first whispered this concept to my heart I realized that this is going to be a journey. Perhaps it will reorient me for the second half of life? Regardless of where this study takes me, I realize that, for it work, I’m going to need to become very clear about at least two things: God’s love and my purpose. Because the reason I’m not already living a quiet life has everything to do with what I think about that.