Quiet Beginning

 

Christmas Morning Backyard 2004 002

 

January…how quickly it is fleeing from us!

 

January is considered a month of beginnings.

 

I recall when I was younger that I did not really appreciate this month of the year very much at all. The beauty and excitement of the holidays from late November to the end of December were passed. The weather often interfered with plans or opportunities. Days were shorter and nights were longer. Many days in the Midwest were gray and cloudy and I was eager to move into February and the fun of Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.

 

My view of January has gone through a metamorphosis over time. I think it happened gradually when our children were still at home and we would unexpectedly enjoy an IMG_0651unexpected “snow day.” Since it wasn’t a planned day off from school, it felt like a gift of freedom, a day for staying in pajamas, sipping hot chocolate, and lighting a fire in the fireplace while the snow piled up in drifts outside and the biting cold winds swirled around the corners of the house.

 

As time passed I developed a rich regard for January and began to look forward to it before the holidays had even passed. I anticipated the quieter days, the more open calendar, and greater opportunities for reflection, solitude, and silence. It was easier to linger over coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and value the release from the crush of busyness. IMG_3122It was easier to leave the Christmas tree up a bit longer to enjoy the warmth of its lights in unhurried hours at the end of the day.

 

January is a time when we can often more easily let go of the human expectations upon us as we recuperate from the holidays and reflect on the year ahead and plan for what we would like to see happen perhaps. In this part of the Midwest it feels as if the Lord arranges creation to step off the merry-go-round that keeps us exhausted and out of touch with ourselves. Temperatures, precipitation, and driving conditions offer excuses to opt out of many things we would readily accept in October, May, or July.

 

We live in a world that tends to be noisy and full of distractions. We adapt and endure them. Sometimes they even become addictive so that being quiet or unplugged causes us to feel uneasy, but if we allow ourselves to stay with that discomfort for just a few minutes longer we may well discover the peaceful calm that sweeps over us and breaks up the noise on the inside of us.

 

That noise on the inside uses energy at an incredible pace. It adds stress that is frequently unrelenting as we consider the demands of others as well as ourselves. The IMG_1546 (1)noise on the inside keeps us from falling asleep, staying asleep, and resting deeply. The noise ties our digestive system in knots and causes us to be impatient and irritable.

 

January may be very different in places in the world where the weather does not impact life a great deal. For those of us where it does, I think it is God’s sweet gift to us. He knows we need to have more open space in our days, weeks, and months. He knows we need to turn down the volume of the noise. He knows what we need.

 

The Lord also knows of the many things we neglect in our spiritual lives; the disciplines of solitude and silence are likely at the top of the list. But these are absolutely necessary and especially so for those of us who are immersed in ministry of any kind, caught up in a performance-oriented life, or hooked on needing control.

 

No matter how tired we may be, we often resist solitude and silence. Sometimes it may be frightening to consider because we are no longer sure of who we are when we are unplugged. January nudges us to take a risk to discover the gifts of these disciplines.

 

“When we make room for silence we make room for ourselves…Silence invites the unknown, the untamed, the wild, the unfathomable – that which rarely has a chance to surface within us.” Gunilla Norris

 

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26 thoughts on “Quiet Beginning

  1. we long for some weather here on the coast of CA, but my work/ministry has been in a “january” of rest and at first I felt guilty, but have decided to enjoy the quiet and rest and pray on the next thing.

  2. I’m not a fan of winter, so winter months are always hard for me. But January, like you said, is a month of new beginnings. A brand new years stretches ahead of us and there are endless possibilities.
    Thank you for joining The Really Crafty Link Party, and have a wonderful week.

  3. I must say thank you so much for these thoughts today. As my #oneword for last year was stillness, it was hard for me to accept in the beginning, because I felt that my physical life had already been stilled so much because of a sudden diagnosis with chronic illness. Ah, but God is so wise! Your statement here: “That noise on the inside uses energy at an incredible pace,” helped me to see all of the energy that had been sapped from my small stores because of the noise on the inside! Even though I have moved onto a new word, of course He continues to use that word from last year to remind me to return to that still place. Blessings to you!

  4. While I do not love January I have found that I look forward to the quiet time after the holidays. I do find us home more with less plans and a more relaxed lifestyle.

  5. Thanks for this, Pam! I have been freezing all day and in all honesty, grumbling just a little. I needed this. It is a sweet reminder of why I love the seasons … even winter! Blessings!

    1. You’re so welcome! I must confess that I have an advantage there. I am and always have tended to be warm unlike my sweet hubby and daughter who seem always to be chilly. My hubby groaned when I recently purchased a pad to put on my pillow that is activated by the weight of my head and keeps the pillow cool for 3 hours without refrigeration, etc. at night. 😂

  6. Beautiful shots and thoughts. Here in the deep south we usually don’t get snow which is odd for us northerners and if it does snow, everything shuts down since we have no way of treating roads.

  7. I agree! I love any reason to not rush, and Jan is one to snuggle up inside or go out and play if it snows here. I am in KY so it’s a 50/50 chance each year lol.

    Love your photos too!

    1. 😊 Ah, yes, that would be true in KY! (What part of KY? We travel through your state often to visit our son in Franklin, TN!) Thanks for the feedback on the photos!💕

  8. That last image . . . so gorgeous.
    And your words reminded me of the one thing I have come to love about the “January season,” and that’s the unexpected pockets of time that get dropped in my lap when things get cancelled because of weather. I always view that as bonus time, and it helps me to enjoy the crazy unpredictability of winter — and of life in general.
    Blessings to you, my friend!

    1. Thanks, my friend, I love that pic at the end as well!! It’s wonderful to discover how God has a purpose and blessing in each season if we will only take time to discover it! Have a blessed day in that beautiful area you live in!!❤️

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