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Today, my family enjoyed a peaceful time of togetherness as we traveled on the road to and from events. It was truly a time spent sharing our feelings, talking about our thoughts and basically communicating from "down deep."
I thought I would give you a bird's-eye view of a few moments of our trip that eventually evolved into an epiphany for several of us.
(Note: Names and birth order have been changed to protect the innocent.)
The exclamation burst forth from Child #1 in the back of the van.
"Yes?" I responded.
"She's laughing at me!"
Taking a breath to speak, I was suddenly cut off.
"No, I wasn't! It wasn't at you!" said Child #2. Attempting to add my two cents to this heartfelt, deep sharing moment, I reasonably asked what had started the laughing in the first place.
"What?" came the response. "Are you talking? I can't hear you from back here." I repeated my question again, much more loudly this time. As Child #2 began to explain, an excited rush of emotion was shared from the middle of the van.
"He hit me!" came the words from Child #3. Giving a very firm look to Child #4, I calmly asked what had prompted the unexpected physical show of affection. "I don't know…I was mad." Before I could respond, another interjection came from the far back.
"Mom!! She doesn't know where Krakow, Poland is!! "
"I can't help that I don't know!" returned Child #3 loudly.
Suddenly moved to share my own deep thoughts, I explained that younger children haven't quite learned all that older, much more educated children have, adding also (just to be clear, of course) that this should be quite obvious.
"But, Mom. Everyone knows where it is. It's where St. Faustina came from…"
"I couldn't remember!" Child #3 countered emphatically.
As I began to address this turn in discussion, a new question emerged from Child #3 who seemed oblivious to the fact that a current conversation was already in progress.
"What does 'indulgence' mean?"
Loud protests emerged as all passengers began deliberating at once.
As my blood pressure began to build to a level that could boil an egg, I counted to 5 before addressing each comment. As I spoke, I found myself disappearing into another world, gazing out the window to find palm trees sunning themselves on an ocean-swept beach. Smiling despite myself, I looked dreamily at the blue water with its white-crested waves that had replaced the dingy late fall, early winter landscape passing by.
Suddenly, loud music overtook the air, immediately rising to the top of the throng of voices already rushing turbulently throughout the vehicle, abruptly putting an end to my daydreaming. I turned to Child #2 who had taken it upon herself to turn on the radio.
"This will help!" she said knowingly. For a moment I stared at her. As Child #2 turned the volume up even louder to cover up the increasing din in the rest of the van, the beautiful melody and lyrics of 'Breath of Heaven' became more like a hurricane of heaven storming through the air, prompting the voices to reach an impossibly louder level.
Incredibly, an epiphany dawned at that moment amidst the chaos, and my face unknowingly broke into a wide smile. Child #2 eyed me suspiciously. "Why do you look like that, Mom?" she questioned, half yelling.
"Well, I find it quite interesting that you would choose a beautiful, peaceful ballad to drown everyone out. In other words, although you meant well, you used more noise to shut out the noise."
The light dawned in the two eyes opposite mine and Child #2 sat back and pondered, but not until she had reached for the volume decrease button.
How incredibly true is this in our own lives? It seems that when life becomes the loudest, we forget that God is reaching for us in a still, small whisper. It beckons us, yet somehow we assume it is just another part of the noise of life, deserving no more attention than the clamor around us.
How often do I put on music, a video or sit at the computer when I have a moment to myself, foolishly believing that it will provide the peace I am longing for? It may indeed be quieter than the noise from which I have temporarily obtained a reprieve, but in truth I am just replacing noise with more noise.
During Advent, listening for that small whisper of God becomes even more urgent as He calls me on towards the birth of His Son. How will I ever hear it if I don't remove the noise altogether?
Lord, help me to stop - to truly stop - and take the time to listen to You guiding me to the foot of the manger. May my sacrifice of quiet time for You (and for many of us it can truly be a sacrifice) be the gateway to the stable door where I meet You face to face on Christmas Day!
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Hi! I'm a Catholic mom who loves to encourage and support others in their journey to live the beauty of our Catholic faith in a modern world. It can be a struggle, no doubt, but God has given us the tools we need! Join my family (both immediate and extended!) and me as we take on this incredible journey of our path to holiness.
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