A little over a century ago, Charlotte Mason wrote, “In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time . . .”
I wonder what she would think about the pressures today. Would she think there are more pressures? Or would she think they were the same, just perhaps in different forms?
Either way, the pressure is there. It’s been there. And not just for our children, but for us as mothers. Some of this pressure is internal, but I would venture to argue that the majority of pressure is external and subtle. We are always being talked to, communicated with, sold something.
Our young children have a lot to tell us. Whether it’s a story they’ve made up, or an argument with a sibling or friend, or the baby who is crying to tell us they are tired, our little people talk to us a lot. Add to that noise phone calls, text messages, e-mails, television, social media, and just the internet in general. But the noise and talking doesn’t stop there. When I get out of my minivan to pump gas and take a mini-break from the Little Voices strapped inside, I’ve been assaulted by the screens, very loudly, selling me something at the gas pump. A certain brand of chocolate candies has a little message inside the wrapper. Even my can of carbonated water, nicely decorated and marketed, has a message on the pop tab, “hi u”.
Everyone is in my ear and at times it seems impossible to escape the noise. How can a mother seek quiet in this modern world?
Sure, turning off screens of every kind, if even for an hour, helps.
Taking walks outside.
But the barrage of noises seems relentless. Even now as I write, a neighbor is using a leaf blower, cars are passing on the highway, the air conditioner unit (for which I am eternally grateful) is humming softly. Noise! Noise! Noise!
What is the value of being quiet in this culture of endless noise? Am I always “taking in” ? Am I ever “giving out”? Am I more consumer than producer? Am I ever just still, being neither consumer nor producer? Is there value in just being? After all, we are human beings, not human doings.
One of my favorite books for reflection and quieting my mind is Wendell Berry’s A Timbered Choir. It’s a book of poems about being amongst trees and being quiet.
So tell me what you think. Is there value in being quiet? In being still? Is it even possible? How are you quiet and still, both physically and mentally?