Quiet Times, Emmanuel, & Grief

"Your problem is not the first fifteen minutes of the day. It's the next twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes. You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God." 
- Dallas Willard, as quoted in the book Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg
My image
I have recently begun to rethink my quiet times;
Precious morning hours, when the house is still and the sun not yet risen and the coffee sends out delicious steam...
When I wander the chilly, twilit rooms with quiet song and prayer flowing freely in the silence...
When I scribble down careful poem-prayers in an effort to understand my own wayward thoughts...
When the Bible lies open - English on one side, Portuguese on the other - and I marvel at the ancient words that are just as new and fresh as if they'd been penned yesterday...

I no longer consider these hours as the one, the only, the quiet time (!), snatched from the jaws of a loud and potentially hectic day.
They are simply my time to sit in silence and prepare for the daily life that is to be my ultimate act of devotion.
Because, if I truly embrace the reality of God with Us and my identity as a temple of the Holy Spirit, then my recognition of the holy is never limited to a calm house and an open Bible. 

My expectations for my morning quiet times have shifted. These blocks of time are not the only occasions throughout the day when I'll be able to reliably commune with God. Truly, 'quiet times' are just the beginnings of long days of devotion.
They're the times in which to consciously align myself with the plans and purposes of God. To cleanse mind and soul of yesterday's dust, and start the new day by worshiping and seeking God's will. Times to forgive. Times for conviction and repentance. Times to bow before the throne and say, "here I am, Lord. Send me."
Essentially, to compose my inner being so that I may come as close as possible to experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in my everyday life with God. Loving my neighbor as myself. Observing all that He has commanded me. 

I find it ironic that I began this post THIS morning.
Of all the mornings...

The morning when everything was going along wonderfully, and I was getting the house clean and tidy and looking forward to company for lunch... 

The morning when Jon came home with the news that a friend's sister had died. 

Not someone I knew. 
But someone who left behind a child and a husband and a brother with sadness behind the smile.
Someone who had given no outward sign of accepting Christ before her passing.

And all unexpectedly, the weight of mourning like those who have no hope was dumped on my heart.

And what do you say to the grieving family member in the living room? What do you do? How do people process grief here? How do I express myself when I don't even have the Portuguese vocabulary for the things that are on my heart?

Sobbing on the living room floor didn't seem like the proper way of showing sympathy.

So I did most of my crying in the kitchen, over a sink full of dishes. 

Mourn with those who mourn.

And clean the house, and cook, and bathe kids, and entertain guests, and pray, and check email, and make plans...visitors and funeral arrangements and supper, all in the same sentence.

Emmanuel, Emmanuel! Be with us! Be with us now!

Today was one of those seemingly endless days. Too many emotions. Too many sensations. Going by too slowly to end, too quickly to allow space for processing. 

Tomorrow it all starts again. But different. And I will rise with hope.

Because there is an Emmanuel.

And I will seek Him in the quiet of the morning, and walk beside Him through whatever comes.


  1. Sometimes I read something that moves me to a point that I don't have any words left. Past the place where I formulate replies in my brain. And I just sit there and let the words on the page sink into me.

    And then I go away and don't leave a comment because it seems like a comment would disrupt that feeling of...quietness.

    But then you, as the writer, have no idea what your post meant to me.

    Thus, I try to say it today. Keep writing. I may not always comment. But I do read your posts, and they mean a lot to me. Thanks.

    1. I have the same feeling from time to time, and it's always a struggle to know what to say. But thanks for responding. It's always tremendously affecting to know when my words have touched someone.

  2. Wow, this is really good. "Because there is an Emmanuel." I never thought of putting it like that before, but it's so true - God is with us, and because of that we can face tomorrow.

    1. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone.

      To quote the profundity of a wise, middle-aged hymn.


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