Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Blessings and Pains of a Quiet Soul

As I'm now in the middle of finals week, I won't be posting a major piece this week. Instead, I've posted below a poem I wrote a few weeks ago, about some of the trials of being an extreme introvert in a culture that applauds boisterous extroversion. I wrote it in the midst of feeling emotionally spent after a few hours at a social event. It isn't always the case that long social engagements overwhelm me, but it happens often enough that I'm beginning to learn my boundaries and my need for seasons of silence. But even though it's tough at times to be an introvert, I certainly wouldn't trade it. I'm here at seminary in part because I believe that the church can benefit from learning the blessings of silence and reflection, and that leaders who are uncharismatic (in the sense that the world uses the term) can embody a powerful and surprising blessing to the people of God.

"Quiet Together"

I can laugh with you

Alone, in the beauty

Of a silent moment.

I can lift up my hands

And dance for joy

And fall down on my face

In the wonder of being yours.

But with others

I am slow to laugh

Slow to speak

And slow to show my heart.

Why do I feel a stranger here?

Why is my heart weary

Of being among those you love

And those I love as well?

Why do I long for silence and peace

When everyone else

Cries out for frenzied interaction?

I feel like a cripple, Lord,

Vainly struggling to raise myself

From the dusty earth

As my friends run past

In the frantic delight

Of being together.

Sometimes I wish I could rise

And join them,

And sometimes I wish

They would hurry on past

And simply allow me

To smile blessings on them

From the peace of my patient reserve.

Lord, I know your silence

More than I know your face.

Do you too feel full of peace

When the world is full of action?

Are you wearied by the frenzy of it all?

Fellowship is a gift from you,

But silence is a gift as well,

And one we too often throw away.

Are you like me at times, O Lord?

When you rested on the seventh day,

Was it truly resting?

When you withdrew on the mountain

To be alone and pray,

Was it your heart that forced you away?

Or are you like the others,

Who smile and laugh

And speak and act

Without a moment’s hesitation,

Without the pauses that keep me

Lingering far behind?

Do you sometimes wish our prayers

Would be less of frantic asking

And crying out,

And more of simply resting

And being with You?

I find comfort

In the lonely peace of Christ,

In a fellowship that needs nothing

Of echoed laughter

Or forced conversation,

But simply of being friends

And being quiet