Generally, rocking, swinging, and movement have always comforted me. I have been known to frequent playgrounds in order to find a swing set, though my favorite is ALWAYS a tire swing hung from a high branch in an ancient oak tree. I am sure it has something with my need to have wind blowing through my hair and the sense of freedom I feel…almost like I am flying. When the kids were little we moved around a lot, but I always knew where the closest playground was. Beyond parks we always had a hammock in our own yard if possible. Some of my most memorable moments of my wee ones are hammock related. One specific memory comes to mind today that is particularly powerful in my current world.
When Peter was around two years old we had a daily routine. We would drop one sibling in first grade, another in kindergarten, and the third at preschool. Upon arriving home, I put him in the stroller for our morning walk around the neighborhood. I used this time to allow the Lord to bear upon my heart and teach me his ways. It was my daily walk with God…literally. After our stroll, I took Peter straight to the hammock. I was a young, sleep deprived mom and I knew the chance of a morning nap with a toddler boy was higher if there was a swinging motion involved. Okay, okay…the chance of my getting some sleep too was even higher, so I got the hammock stick to push with and we crawled in. To settle him down we played a listening game.
I would whisper, “Shhh. Listen. Do you hear that?”
And he would respond, “What is it?”
I would say, “I think it’s a squirrel.”
He would strain to hear and then he would say, “I think I hear it.”
Soon he would be listening intently for any noise…wind, birds, crickets, frogs from the pond next door…anything at all. I can still hear his little voice saying, “Mommy do you hear that? It’s a bird.” or “That’s the wind blowing. Can you hear it?” Slowly his head would drop onto my chest, and his little diapered rear would become still. He didn’t fall asleep right away. We would swing in silence just listening together for a quite a while. Soon he was breathing deeply and, with my arms around him, I drifted off into a peaceful sleep as well. Precious times. One day, we were swinging and listening as usual. He was whispering about the sounds he heard and I was adding a few of my own. His head dropped onto me as it did every day, when he suddenly said, “Shhh. What’s that?”
I said, “I don’t know. What is it?”
He said, “I hear God.”
My heart melted and I replied with tears in my eyes, “I hear him too buddy. I hear him too.”
And I did. It was one of the sweetest worship moments I have ever had. His presence was tangible. I was moved by the seeds of faith planted by God into my son’s heart. The smallness of a child spoke all the power of heaven….swinging in a hammock. A long silence of awe followed and soon we dozed into the most peaceful sleep.
The memory of that day comes back to me from time to time, like today. I have learned that when things are difficult, pulling back and being still is critical for me to hear God. I can rush around, try to fix everything myself. I can worry and fret over the lot life has dished out. I can feel all alone. But when I want relief, true calm and rest I must remember that I hear him best when I am listening quietly. It is as if he waits for me to stop my frantic work and sit. When I am doing all I can, he doesn’t move on my behalf, because I am moving on my behalf. Once I sit. I hear. I see. He moves…with compassion…towards me. I simply watch…and wait. I am like the child resting my head on my father’s chest. With his heart beating in my ears, I hear God. He rocks me and holds me. He shares his heart, and I can perceive it despite all that rails against him in my world. Despite circumstances and difficulties, I pull away and into his arms. I am comforted there, and I am never alone because his presence rests with me. Always…when I humbly remember the simplicity of a child.