This evening I met up with a youth worker who I have been getting to know over the last several years. He might be one of the most creative people I have ever spent time with. People are constantly clamoring for his time and I suspect that he does not know how to say the word “no.” There is so much momentum in this guy’s life and everyone applauds him for it. Everyone except his wife.
“…he does not know how to say the word “no.”
He is candid about the tension his absence creates at home. Or maybe it is just his lack of presence. I get the sense that even when he is home he is still so far away. Work preoccupies every waking moment and there is very little margin for much else. He has so many plates spinning. The best thing that could possibly happen is for him to drop some plates and let some people down.
I shared something that you offered me in a particularly crowded season when I was stretched far too thin. “Momentum is the thief of intimacy.” This seemed to both resonate deeply and resist mightily within him. Like friends who long to know a life marked by sobriety while at the very same time internally justify their addictive behavior. It makes me wonder about the pain he might be attempting to numb.
And I can not help but sense a gratitude rising up within me for being given permission to sit quietly with my friend as he gives me a glimpse of the state of his soul today. It was wonderful to find myself offering him the very thing that he, in his own rush and hurry, rarely ever receives or offers.
Parker Palmer’s words surface on my mind even now reminding me that our soul, like a wild animal, “seeks safety in the dense underbrush, especially when other people are around. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently at the base of a tree, breathe with the air, and fade into our surroundings, the wild creature we seek might put in an appearance.”
There we a several moments that I was tempted to interject with an intrusive question but something in me resisted. I suspect that more than a well placed leading edge question, I needed to offer him stillness.