936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
The dog barks and I wonder why the owner doesn’t care. Doesn’t he know that I just need some quiet?
I am surrounded by hundreds of strangers. Normally I would find it beautiful, a medley of cultures under a masterpiece sky. Sun radiates down on so many colors of skin; wrinkles of newborns and wrinkles of old men, all out to enjoy the show. It is mesmerizing. But at the moment it is wasted on me, because all I see is noise piercing through any hope for quiet.
That darn dog won’t stop barking, and now a little chocolate-skinned girl as cute as can be is yelling far too loudly, over and over again: “Hello doggy! HEEEELLLLLLLLLLLO Doggy! Hello Doggy!” The dog barks back and I wince at the commotion.
All I wanted this morning was quiet.
My husband searches for parking in the streets packed bumper to bumper with cars while I find a spot on the grass. I claim the first shaded space we come across and sit down with our boys. A stranger turns around and kindly offer us his extra beach chairs. “My kids are off somewhere and don’t need these.” I thank him. The dog finally stops barking.
My husband joins us a half hour later with stroller and baby and lunch in tow. I don a fabric cover and feed the babe his lunch. My husband cuts bread from the farmer’s market and closes it around ham and cheese and pickled jalapeños for our own meal. And we wait. We wait for the one thing that has united this mixture of strangers under the same canopy of trees. We wait for the planes–for the famed Blue Angels to paint the cobalt sky with their white crystal trails.
Every half hour my boy turns to ask me, “Are the planes getting ready?” He knows we’re waiting. But him? He’s not actually waiting. Time has a whole different value to him. He runs his truck back and forth over the stone wall, the whole of his attention resting in that Tonka dumper.
An hour has passed, and more strangers filter in. They all mingle together in this shared waiting. I’m still longing for quiet. Impatiently do I bid these planes to come and do their thing so I can go and do my own. There is so much to do today.
I keep waiting. And then after two hours I finally stop waiting.
And only then—when I give up waiting and lie back to stare into the indigo blue sky eclipsed by marshmallow clouds, do I stop wasting time. Because time severed by divided attention is atrophied time–starved of all its potential.
When we only give ourselves partly to what is right in front of us, always preoccupying our minds with what comes next, then we live life incomplete. We’ll look back on years of diverted attentions—with very scarce savored moments.
It is only when I stop waiting that I notice the mixture of children from all sorts of ages and backgrounds down in a field below. A solo football thrown from hand to hand connects them all, shades of white and brown and black and olive all against the brilliant green grass.
And I see now the sticky-faced grins of children all around, licking popsicle treats leaving bright blue sugary trails down their hands. They glow in the excitement of a day spent outdoors. I let my own head fall back in laughter as my boys joke and run and jump and climb and feel the wind.
And only when I stop considering all that waits to be done at home do I notice my eldest son leaning up against the rock wall. “I’m going back over by my friend!” He told me minutes before. His friend is a kind boy, perhaps thirteen, who joined us by the rock wall, but only after asking, “I’m not in your way, am I?” He’s considerate.
My own boy doesn’t give a second thought to this boy’s color or age—he simply invites him to join in his game of filling up that Tonka dump truck with pebbles. Fill. Dump. Repeat. They busy themselves with this for an hour.
It is now in this moment when I realize that the fullness of time is found in the emptying out of time. When busyness and stress and activity are shed, and we learn to sit. To observe. To just be still.
This is when time is appreciated to the fullest.
Eventually the famed blue jets rocket straight up into the sky and do their dance and buzz straight overhead and wow us all down below. It is quite the show. But I hardly watch them.
Instead I watch the crowd. I watch my boys. Because it is not the jet trails and daring maneuvers that are grafting their way into my memory. It is my boy’s face, tired and ready for a nap time long passed, yet rising up in full enamor as Blue Angels dance above his head. This is time filled to the brim.
At one point a couple of hours into our afternoon, my husband turns to me and asks me how I am doing. Our infant sleeps soundly in my arms. “My butt is sore.” I tell him. “Wait….”, he smiles as he forms his reply, “Your butt is sore because you haven’t had to get up and do anything for hours?” I smile back.
When we arrived that morning all I had wanted was quiet. I walked into a crowd of activity and noise and dogs and kids and everything I wanted to just get away from for a while. Yet is was exactly the kind of quiet I needed–the sitting still and watching kind of quiet. It was precisely the sabbath my soul had been hungry for.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!