Charisse Tierney ponders the importance of giving our children time for unhurried contemplation.
The grim old religion of salvation by rushing will go bankrupt altogether, and we shall go straight out of our minds-unless we learn to sit still.
The habit of contemplation, therefore—the ability to sit down in front of something and care enough to let it speak for itself—cannot be acquired soon enough. (Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb)
My 13-year-old daughter lay on the grassy lawn in the middle of our city’s Botanical Gardens. She ran her fingers through the grass blades, watching them bend and spring back, not unlike the wind that tousled her hair. She gazed upon the grass, and I gazed upon her. I could have pushed her more that afternoon. We could have squeezed in a little more math, a little more piano practice, and if we really hurried, maybe even some science.
Perhaps it looked like we were wasting time. I know we were missing out on any number of other activities that were swirling about our community that sunny afternoon.
As is so often the case with my teenagers, I longed to know what was going through her mind. It was tempting to fill her silent reverie with a comment on the weather, or a joke about her little siblings as they danced in the open space nearby.
But, instead, I let her be. I allowed her to feel the value of being still. Of contemplating on whatever was before her. Instead of getting blinded by activity, she was really seeing something, caring about it, and allowing it to speak to her. Whether it was the color, or the movement, or the feel of it, it was saying something to her. Maybe it was soothing a worry, or rejuvenating her thoughts, or inspiring her heart to be still and content with who she is.
It might sound foolish to think that grass can speak to us, or soothe our souls, or ignite self confidence. But it wasn’t so much the grass as the act of still contemplation that was the priceless gift of that afternoon in the garden. If my daughter can be still enough to allow a blade of grass to speak, then it is one step closer to hearing the voice of a flower, or a tree, or a personality.
The voices of God’s creations are much like the voice of God Himself. As my daughter grows accustomed to listening for them, she will also grow accustomed to listening for Him. Still contemplation will be a familiar place of comfort—a place that she will grow to know and love, because it leads her straight to Him.
Copyright 2022 Charisse Tierney
Images copyright 2022 Charisse Tierney, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Charisse Tierney lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Rob and seven children. Charisse is a stay-at-home mom, musician, NFP teacher, and a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist. She is also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and Family Foundations magazine. Charisse blogs at Paving the Path to Purity and can be found on Facebook.