The house is quiet. The dogs have stopped racing around for the moment. Michelle is at work. The kids are at school. It’s just me.
We live in a simple house on a quiet street, and today it feels still for the first time in a while. Or maybe it's me. Perhaps I feel still.
My favorite part of our home is the picture window that looks across our front lawn. It’s more of a meadow. It’s not a big yard, but as many dandelions shoot up from the soil as grass. A little purple bud has sprouted too. I’m not sure what it is, but the greens and whites and purples blend gracefully like watercolors on canvas, painted by a master artist. It is a perfect arena for the squirrels and their perpetual game of chase. They race and zipper across the meadow with childlike glee. Robins peck at the ground, searching for their daily portion of seeds and worms, and bugs. The trees are waking up from a long, gray winter. Green leaves and buds of purple and white color a skyline that was colorless mere weeks ago. The scene is constantly changing. It is always evolving. It’s far better and more stimulating than anything that projects through the pixels of the TV on the stand just to the right of the window. It’s a beautiful view.
There’s no space where we live. There’s no room to roam on this ½ acre lot in an aging neighborhood. It’s not quiet. The rumble of one of the busiest roads in Fort Wayne — just two blocks away — is always audible. Sirens and diesel engines, and motorcycle pipes are my soundtrack. The dogs smudge the picture window with nose prints as they bark at everything that moves. Our front walk is cracked and uneven. Our grass is unkempt and overcome by weeds. The roof of the house across the street is weathered and thin. The siding is faded, and their garage is in poor repair. There’s no sidewalk. Just an ugly, gray asphalt road. But what does it matter? Seven months out of the year, everything is colorless and cold. There’s nothing to see. There’s nothing worth looking at.
Both of these descriptions of my home are accurate. They both depict where I live and the view out my front window.
Where I live is ugly and beautiful.
Where I live is vibrant and dull.
Where I live is full of life and dying.
All of these things are simultaneously true.
Often my view of the world is just as smudged and dirty as our picture window. My life is as cracked and uneven as our front walk. I find myself choking on the weeds as they drain my energy. Many days, I see the world as gray and lifeless.
But something happens when I keep looking.
Looking long enough and close enough, I see color on even the most colorless day. I start to see life where I once could only see ash. I see beauty even in the grossest imperfection. I know the image of the creator reflecting in everything that lives and moves and breathes. Even if it is just a glimpse. Even if it is just for a moment, life and beauty and color and hope find a way.
In the stillness, I can acknowledge and grieve the brokenness AND recognize the life and beauty springing forth. It’s important to acknowledge and see both.
Life isn’t all beautiful colors and happy thoughts. It also isn’t all colorless skies and barren trees. It’s not one thing or another. It’s all of these things all at once.
Maybe this is why it is essential to find ways to be still. When I am still (not just physically. When my mind and soul, and spirit are also still), I see the world more clearly for what it is. I see myself more clearly for who I am.
The world is broken and beautiful, and so am I.
In the stillness, I learn to recognize the presence of God in all things. I remember to see the beauty in all things. Maybe in the quiet times, I can learn to see and sense, and recognize the beautiful reflection of the image of God in all things as I step into the inevitable activity of the day.