Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Find a Circle of Quiet in Africa: Part 1

the Mezzanine in Jinja
Every so often I need OUT; something will throw me into total disproportion, and I have to get away from everybody — away from all these people I love most in the world — in order to regain a sense of proportion. 

I like hanging sheets on lines strung under the apple trees — the birds like it, too. I enjoy going out to the incinerator after dark and watching the flames; my bad feelings burn away with the trash. But the house is still visible, and I can hear the sounds from within; often I need to get away completely, if only for a few minutes. My special place is a small brook in a green glade, a circle of quiet from which there is no visible sign of human beings. There’s a natural stone bridge over the brook, and I sit there, dangling my legs and looking through the foliage at the sky reflected in the water, and things slowly come back into perspective. If the insects are biting me — and they usually are; no place is quite perfect — I use the pliable branch of a shad-blow tree as a fan. The brook wanders through a tunnel of foliage, and the birds sing more sweetly there than anywhere else, or perhaps it is just that when I am at the brook I have time to be aware of them, and I move slowly into a kind of peace that is marvelous, “annihilating all that’s made to a green thought in a green shade.” 

If I sit for a while, then impatience, crossness, frustration, are indeed annihilated, and my sense of humor returns.”
~Madeleine L’Engle, Circle of Quiet

oh, how this need for a circle of quiet resonates with me.  how i long to just drive to a public park and disappear amongst the trees and just be.  that type of space just doesn't exist here in the big city.  and if it did, i doubt it would provide what i've been missing.

if it were a public park in Kampala, Uganda... I'm guessing there would be too many people... I probably wouldn't feel safe enough to relax... it would get dirty and ugly too fast...

we've been here for almost two years, and i still fail to get away to peace and quiet often (if ever).  with our boys in school, there is a semblance of quiet in my home, but it still doesn't always fill that need to escape.  i'm sure in America there will be different hindrances to finding a circle of quiet, like home-schooling, traveling and living with extended family.  every situation has it's benefits and challenges. 

so, how do i fill this need?  how do i get filled up?  we discussed this at our Oasis Gathering on Saturday- and it was good just to commiserate with other international women.  obviously i don't have all the answers- but i have survived a year and half here already:

  • find a partial solution and embrace it.  life is hard.  and it might not be perfect, but there are ways to get my needs met- i just might have to work harder (or pay money) to make it happen.  {for those in Kampala places like: Speke Resort, the Woods, Mish Mash in the morning, a night in Jinja, etc} 
  • go to your room. close the door.  put your ear buds in. make a happy place playlist for just these moments.  and pretend you're alone. even just for 10 minutes. 
  • take a chair out to your garden- face the flowers, the lake or the view- take a deep breath and pray. give thanks. worship. {if there is no lovely space nearby, buy a book of artwork, a travel magazine or watch this or this.  find beauty somewhere and breathe it in}
  • drink a warm cup of something delicious.  close your eyes and let the experience be your circle of quiet.  savor.  
  • write a real letter to a dear friend.  use pretty paper and your best handwriting.  share your heart and an inspiring quote.  it will bless you.  and make you a blessing.
how do you find your circle of quiet?  how do you fill your emotional cup?

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