What I mean by that is that all endings are beginnings. One era gives way to another, and I find myself in the familiar territory of deciding which of several potential paths to take. The depth of the empty nest surprised me, and now I find myself smack in the middle of new possibilities. Again, not unexpected, but the force of it is greater than I thought.
The house is quiet this week. Anjie and Amy are down in L.A. together, and Daniel is in Michigan. Because of Anjie’s work and travel, there will be many days of quiet in the coming few years. The monk in me finds the possibilities for creative work fascinating, and it would not be hard to fade into the walls and go into a very deep quiet for a long time. On the other hand, I am currently enmeshed in the life of a very active congregation that’s searching for God’s direction, and for whatever reason, God has placed me in a position of leadership that does not allow for the monkish silence tempting me. The creative energy needed to discover and communicate what God is doing at the Northwest Church is akin to, but not the same as, the kind of creative energy needed to write a play or a novel, and though it’s exciting and fulfilling in so many ways, the itch to make art is really working on me.
Can’t I do both? Well, yes and no. Truth is, though I do it all the time, I’m not much of a multi-tasker. And in all the brain studies I’ve been reading, they all come down in favor of concentrated effort, arguing that effectiveness in brain function goes down as tasks pile on. And my experience tells me that I’m far more effective when I’m focused than when I’m keeping plates spinning. Nothing new there…ancient wisdom has been telling us about the power of focus forever.
So what do the long hours of quiet hold? Writing? Sometimes I imagine plunging into some new thing…visual art, whatever. But I’m such a cliche in that I’m like all the other 50-year-olds cultural students are telling us about, coming to a place where perhaps (only God knows) another 25 years stretches out in front of me, and I want to make it count in the biggest way I can find. My assumption is that God knows what’s coming, and He is calling me toward it.
So that’s what the quiet and the hours are for.