Monday, September 5, 2011

quiet in the city

City living is hard for me.  I crave quiet.  I crave wide open.  I crave clean.  It's not all I need, but oh just sometimes...  I know I'll have all of it worlds more perfect than I can even dream when the Lord turns this old world inside out.  Until then, we're learning to seize every rainy moment as the best time to try to find that here, now.  Because most of the time, these Chinese city-dwellers are pretty uninterested in playing outdoors in the rain or any near rainy day.

When we were in the mountains this summer, we relished the quietness of the hours.... daylight songs faintly heard in the grass, the animals, the water, friends' talk and laughter.  And night time with its masterful quietness.

We gasped, the last morning we were there, to see tourists who drove out to our spot with a boom box!    How painful to listen to their blaring pop music smothering this symphony!  But to most Chinese,  I think quietness is not a beautiful song or maybe just not a known one.  (Remember how some songs grow in your heart as they become more familiar to you?)

Last week we rode our big bike out at dusk to find the two coolest tire swings in this part of the city. No one else there in that tucked away corner of apartments.  Our kids thrill over them.  And then play happy with a few neighbor kids coming home.  And when we head home, we pass by a plain corner with benches and the standard exercisers- no real attraction- but the place was packed.... at least fifty people all gathered, enjoying the evening together.  Chit chat and lots of laughter, babies and gray heads, noise and news radio...  Maybe that's one reason why Americans can come off as So Rude to foreigners sometimes...  we like our space, our privacy, so we give them theirs.... even when they don't want it.

But generally Chinese don't crave quiet as much.  They don't need "their space".  I think to many local friends, the best way they can think to show their interest in our kids when we walk by is to basically set off verbal firecrackers (the Chinese do love their firecrackers) and call out and gesture wildly "Oh how cute, they're little dolls, they can't speak Chinese, but they're so cute, white skin, yellow hair, blue eyes, and twins.... " (they can't fathom 4 single births so close together so everyday we have to explain that we actually don't have twins.)    The volume then increases again when they learn that we can speak Chinese...

I'll be honest, it's hard for me.  (Not a new story on this blog, right?)  A lot of times I just really want quiet and I want to be outdoors...  It doesn't seem like it should be an impossible combination.  In America, it's doable.  But in this city, and much of this country, being outdoors is like sending an invitation to everyone who sees you, that you want to talk, to visit, to find out about them and share answers to every one of their two dozen questions.

And really... it's ok, isn't it?  Not. A. Big. Deal.

Haven't I come to Love?  And Love can do this...

It's embarrassingly basic.  I wish I didn't need to pray this, wish there was already love gushing out of me...  but nope.  I need love beyond my own, from beyond msyelf.  That's for sure.  

Lord Jesus, please put it in my heart to love the sounds of many people.  Fill me with your love for them! Give me your love for my neighbors all made in your image (may I see your astounding beauty in them!) all ones you delight in and gladly serve (help me take up the basin and the towel too) and died for... (help me die, and live boldly new in you!)

her collection of pine cones and rocks, souvenirs from our walk

Now off to my spot in the living room for a bit of quiet prayer before I set out once again...

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how different places have different challenges... Here it's quiet (though not with as much open space as you'd like), but people will gladly leave you your own personal space. In our local culture (and even in our church), there is almost no interest in interacting with one another or being dependent on one another in any way. What an efficient way to quell opportunities to speak Life-giving words to those around us, or to be encouraged ourselves.