I doubt any of us who aspired to achieve a quieter and more peaceful life in 2020 thought this was the way to go about it. Sure, in my case, less children’s birthday parties, less meetings, and more time with family were all good things to aspire to. But at the sake of people contracting a virus, people losing jobs en masse, and not being able to visit anyone outside of the home wasn’t really what I was thinking. I suspect the same for you.
BC, ‘Before COVID-19’, life was hectic. Everyone in their different ways and in their different stages of life were walking at a brisk pace that was hard to keep up with. The calendar was always full and the different people and events garnering my attention was constant. One of the first books I read this year was “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer. It’s an excellent book and well worth the read, but also a symbol of how I was approaching this year–one that required some work in order to become less hurried in life and more at peace with a slower pace.
I’ve often been struck by Paul’s encouragement to the church in Thessalonica to aspire to a quiet life. It’s a little verse tucked away at the back of the letter, there in the middle of the New Testament, encouraging something that seems beyond our comprehension. He writes,
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, ESV)
In context we’re talking about loving others, loving the brothers and sisters of our churches and those around us. There is also a missional bent to this passage where we are to seek to walk in godliness in order to witness to outsiders. But there tucked away in v11 is this little phrase, ‘aspire to live quietly’.
These days of isolation aren’t all quiet. I know they are for some, painfully so. But for others, these days of isolation are even more full and tiring than they were before coronavirus hit. While we may not be in the same boat, we’re all sailing the same seas and being hit with different waves.
As this year has progressed we’ve been incorporating different things in our weeks that have helped to slow us down. While the meetings and events may have disappeared, in person at least, there is still plenty to keep our family of five occupied. One particular rhythm we’ve begun is to have what we call a ‘Saturday Sabbath’, which basically means we do things as a family that are life giving to us and avoid all digital devices. Phones are kept in drawers and not looked at until late in the evening (and to be honest, the addictive nature of these things become so much more evident on this day!). An all-in family activity usually happens in the morning. We talk, and read, and play, and pray, and celebrate life together. They’ve been refreshing, and something we don’t want to do away with come post-isolation.
But that’s just an example from our household, I wonder how you’ve pursued the quiet life in yours?
In this second round of isolation, here in Melbourne at least, I wonder what pursuing a quiet life might look like? My situation will no doubt be different to you, and by now the whole thing is becoming more and more frustrating. That’s the reality. Yet, as we continue to aspire to a quiet life, how might it be marked by the love of God and the love of others?