The Stillness

I used to love the quiet. Always being an introspective person, I would often sit with my thoughts and reflect on them and why I was thinking those things. And it was in the quiet that I felt myself connected and close to God. That I could feel his presence. In college, one of my favorite pastimes was to sit on one of the swings they had scattered throughout the campus. I would swing away. I’d look up at the clouds and talk to God. I’d see the flowers around me and hear the birds singing and knew that God was near. I felt happy. Content. Close to Him. I’d journal my thoughts instead of studying for my next exam. But this was something I loved to do. 

Life and circumstances have changed since those college days, back when life was more simple and carefree. 

There came a time when I was sick after the birth of my daughter. I had postpartum depression and anxiety and oh, how things changed! I did not want to sit with my thoughts anymore. I didn’t want to hear my thoughts or have the thoughts I had. They scared me. I did not want to be alone. 

But things have a way of coming full circle sometimes. Despite not wanting to be alone for a second while I was sick, there were times when I would take the courageous step outside of my parent’s house (who were taking care of me and my baby at that time) and I would walk out into their backyard. It was beautiful out there. It overlooked a quiet, peaceful, still lake. And, there was a wooden swing. Waiting for me; calling out to me to come sit on its bench and do what I’d done long before. Talk to God. 

And I would swing away. In desperation, this time, I pleaded with the Lord to please take this away from me; to please, please heal me. Heal me for myself, but more importantly, to heal me for my family. They needed me and I was so sick I could barely take care of myself. I remember crying out to the Lord with tears in my eyes, “My God, My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” 

God heard me. He even saw me hit a tree with a very large stick…with great force, I might add. I was so angry. Why was this happening to me? 

But it was in the stillness, out on that wooden swing, that I knew in my heart of hearts that God was listening to me. I could feel his presence, not strongly, but I knew or hoped that He would have pity on me. 
And he did pity me. My Father loved me. He sent birds my way that made a nest outside my window and they would sing to me loudly every morning. 

And one day, healing finally found me. 
Now, after surviving such a battle, I have been on the mend. But I still struggle. 
As a stay at home mom with a two and a half year old daughter, I now find the silence to be like a double edged sword. Perhaps other moms can relate. Some moments, after being constantly needed and followed around all day (let’s admit – having your space invaded all day!) and then when it’s nap time, I welcome the stillness and quiet with open arms. I turn off the tv, and even leave the music off. I’ll just sit there, and revel in the peace where I can finally breathe again. 

But, on the other hand, there are times when the silence is truly deafening. Even frightening again at times. Our thoughts can consume us…thoughts of worry and “what if’s”, contemplating our purpose and all the deep questions you can think of can arise in just a few moments time of sitting there alone with your thoughts. Isn’t this why we are so busy all the time? Why we’re always on the go, leaving no idle time? That’s why we’re on our phones, scrolling pointlessly through our Facebook feed, wasting time, but it keeps us, or maybe even “saves” us from thinking. 

But God, he is beckoning us to come to the stillness. To find that wooden swing to sit on and just talk and pray to Him. For that is where we will truly find our peace. We find our peace in the stillness. We talk to Him and lay our burdens at his feet. 

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. To know that we have a Father who cares for us should bring great comfort to our souls. 

In my prayer/writing room, I have this sign hanging above my desk; “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. It is a reminder that I need to see daily. It may be intimidating and overwhelming to think of being still, for you, like me, may be afraid of your thoughts and where all they can lead you. But God is powerful. 

Satan is powerful, too, yes, and he wants your mind to dwell in the dark places. That is why we must remember the verse: “…we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. Give your thoughts to God…tell Him. He already knows your every thought, but we grow close to Him in releasing that to Him. Our thoughts might be scary and overwhelming, but surrendering those to Him can leave us with a sense of freedom. Peace. He has the power to calm the anxiety within us; we just have to hand it over. 

Be still, and you might just find the God your heart has been searching for. 

The Bird

[Backstory. I wrote this poem about a dark time in my life, when I suffered through postpartum depression. This is very personal to share, and a word of warning that it can be triggering and intense, but the ending of the poem offers Hope. I have felt the need to share this in hopes that it might help someone know that healing will come. Do not give up!]
 

 

I still hear the crows.

I still hear the buzzards.

I still see them.

They circle the skies above me,

Still,

From time to time.

 

And they remind.

They taunt . . . “Remember? Remember?

Remember your pain. Remember your fear.

I will always be here to remind you,”

Their screeching, ugly voices tell me.

 

I often wonder how they found me.

I’d seen them using their evil powers

In those I loved

From the time I was a little girl.

I always deeply feared them.

That one day they would search me out

And find me.

That their midnight black darkness

Would encircle me and choke out the world.

That those birds would steal my joy,

My happiness,

And replace it with tears.

 

I never knew Fear until they found where I was hiding.

I’d seen it and felt it before

But I never truly knew Fear until the birds came.

 

I brought Life into this world.

She was Beauty.

Heaven came down and Love

Came flowing from my eyes,

When I saw her for the first time

And she breathed her first breath;

When her first cries were heard

by her Mother and Father.

Yes, Heaven came down in those moments.

 

My eyes beheld Beauty

And my arms held her.

 

And then, in a moment,

Suddenly,

I thought I was losing my Beauty,

The life I’d just brought into this world.

Something went wrong with my child,

And for tortuously long moments

That will forever be immeasurable,

She was taken away from me.

 

And I was left alone.

Alone.

Alone I cried,

Alone I wondered if I’d see

The Beauty again.

I wondered if I had seen her for the last time.

I wondered if I would hear her beautiful cry,

If I’d ever hold her again.

 

My beloved husband

Returned to me,

As I lay there waiting.

There was hope in my heart again

When he whispered, “She is okay.”

That our little Beauty we’d created

Had held onto his finger tightly.

We then knew,

Our Beauty was a Fighter.

 

When I saw her again

She was under a glass container;

The artificial oxygen filling the air

To help her breathe.

But I saw a little baby,

My baby,

Struggling, crying, fighting.

Fighting for her life.

Frantically and Fearfully

I watched the numbers

And felt helpless,

As they were not where they were supposed to be.

 

I was scared.

Scared I was still going to lose her.

“Don’t grow attached,

Don’t grow attached,”

Something told me.

 

When she was finally returned to us,

Relief filled our hearts.

But something held me back —

I couldn’t believe that she was back in my arms.

Hyper vigilance set in.

Anxiety took over my entire being.

I was so thankful,

But I was stunned.

I was traumatized by thinking

That my Beauty was dying in my arms,

In those seconds when something went wrong with her.

I was traumatized —

Believing she was still going to be taken away from me.

 

“Hold on . . .

But don’t on too close.

Love her . . .

But don’t love her too much.”

Were words that echoed in my mind.

Nightmares haunted me of losing her.

 

A month after the Beauty debuted her appearance,

All was well with her.

But not so with her Mother.

For that was when they came.

 

The crows.

The buzzards.

The birds.

The darkness.

The thing I’d always feared . . .

Finally found me.

 

I watched the leaves fall from the trees,

And I watched my world turn grey.

In an instant the darkness

Surrounded me.

I watched the sky cry tears

And the sun hid its face from me,

In my darkest and loneliest hours.

 

I wanted to die.

The buzzards hovered overhead

And flew in circles above me.

Waiting for me.

“We want you,”

Their beady eyes looked down and I knew their deadly thoughts.

 

A dead tree overshadowed

And towered above our home —

And the tree became the crows and buzzards’ battle position

Sent forth from the enemy.

They wanted me to die.

They were a constant reminder

of Death.

 

I battled the thoughts —

The war that waged within

Of wanting to take my own life

And yet . . .

Fighting,

Fighting desperately for my life.

 

This battle lasted for months.

Months that should have been beautiful.

That should have been blissful.

That should have been Heaven,

Not Hell.

That should have been what they were not.

 

I was robbed.

We were all robbed.

The thief had come in the night

Stealing my joy,

And, thus, stealing all of our joy.

I suffered,

And those who loved me suffered immensely.

 

I remember the day.

The day I stood outside

Staring up at that dead tree,

Feeling defeated and completely hopeless.

I remember seeing the parting of the clouds

And seeing and feeling the ray of the sun

Finally break through the clouds

And show its face to me again.

I heard the crows and saw them.

They were so loud.

 

But then,

I saw the jay clothed in blue.

I saw the sparrow,

The robin,

And I saw the red cardinal.

I saw them flying from bush to bush,

From tree to tree,

Right in front of my very eyes,

And I heard their melodic singing.

 

And I faintly heard the song

Of a bird in the forest.

Just a tiny sound at first,

That slowly crescendoed into a loud chorus.

That would not be the last time

I’d hear that little bird in the forest.

That day, his song was too powerful

And I watched in wonder as the crows flew away

And I could no longer hear their lies.

It was a moment my heart had hungered for.

 

That tiny bird had flown from far, far away,

And had found me at last.

 

He found me one day sitting by the window

Feeling in despair again.

He sat on a red chair and looked in at me.

His eyes looked into mine

And he didn’t look away.

“Get better! Get better!” He told me.

I felt the very presence of God

And that He was sitting in the red rocking chair,

Whispering,

“I am here. You are not alone.”

 

That tiny bird had the loudest song

Of any bird I’d ever heard.

And the most beautiful.

He stayed around our house from that day on —

The days that I was still sick.

He was a Carolina Wren,

A bird known for being shy —

And yet, he stayed so close,

In the moments when I needed to hear

His song the most.

 

The mornings were my darkest, scariest hours,

When the panic would set in,

And when I’d usually been awakened by crows.

But now, that same wren had found his home.

He made a nest right outside my window,

And he sang for me.

I’d look out my window

And he’d be there looking at me,

Watching over me.

 

Time had taken its time,

But with it,

Came my healing.

The sickness, the darkness finally left me.

The crows, the buzzards, those preying birds

Finally flew away.

They had learned that I wouldn’t

Be taken by them.

I would not be their victim.

They saw that I was a Fighter.

That I had a Beauty and a Beloved

To live for.

 

To this day,

I still hear the crows.

I still hear the buzzards.

I still see them.

They circle the skies above me,

Still,

From time to time.

 

But, I still see my wren,

I hear my wren,

Still,

From time to time.

And he says, “Remember? Remember?

Remember your healing. Remember Hope.

I will always be here to remind you.”

 

He is a constant reminder

of Life.