In my mind, July is when summer really begins. The weather starts to get consistently hot, life for most people slows down, and if they’re lucky they can get away for a vacation.
This week, I’ll be one of the lucky ones who gets some time away from the routine demands of ordinary life. Every year I go up to New Hampshire for a week with family. We go to Lake Winnipesaukee, which is the same place my parents took us when my sisters and I were kids. It’s always fun to see my nieces and nephews enjoy doing the same things there that I did with my sisters when we were their age.
I have many memories of summer days at Lake Winnipesaukee, swimming in the lake, going waterskiing and tubing, day hikes of local mountains, dinners with my family and friends. But when I think about it, the memories that stand out and come to mind most clearly are those times late in the afternoon when the beach was quiet. I would go and sit on one of the docks by myself and look out over the lake. There, I would listen to the breeze, the sounds of the lake water washing over the great granite rocks along the shore, and the groan of boats pulling against their moorings. I usually had a book with me, but more often than not it would remain closed on my lap. In the extended time of quiet aloneness, I would begin to talk to God about things. I don’t think I ever went there with that intention. But as I sat there in that quiet and beautiful place, sharing with God the things that were inside of me seemed like a natural thing to do.
I’m very grateful for that experience. As someone who feels hopelessly addicted to his smartphone, I wonder what would have become of me if had such a device during those years as a young man. I suspect that gadget would have gobbled up my attention, filling my mind with noise in that quiet place, drowning out the silent invitation of God to share some time with Him, and robbing me of the opportunity to join the rest of Creation in giving Him thanks for the gift of existence.
In the First Book of Kings, the Prophet Elijah, distraught from the toils of his ministry, travels to the sacred mountain of Horeb (1 Kings 19). There, he has an encounter with God who comes to Elijah in an unexpected way. He comes to Elijah not in the mighty winds or earthquake or fire, but in a small, still voice. I pray that you will find time during these summer months to find a quiet place away from the noisy distractions of contemporary life to have a conversation with God in the stillness.
3 thoughts on “Finding a Quiet Place”
A beautiful story but you may not have become a priest if you had that smart phone then.
When you go to the dock in the afternoon, regard that as your personal time with God and leave your smartphone back in the cabin or cottage. If anyone wants to call or text you regarding something important, they can leave a message. Enjoy your all too brief vacation.
Father John – Thank you for the lovely and truthful commentary. After his living in CA for over 20 years, my prayers have been answered, my only son moved to NH near your favorite place. Most of my time is being spent there now. Enjoy your much deserved vacation, it is a peaceful and pleasant place to spend time.
You might be interested to know that Fr. Hurley from my son’s parish in SF also spends time in NH – he plans to visit my son next month for a swim in the LAKE!