Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk. ~Charles Spurgeon

My Great-Great-Grandmother Lisle raised a large family. She usually spent mornings working in the house and afternoons in the field. A guest worried about Alice’s pace. “I’ll rest after dinner,” Alice said. “I’ll sit down, nurse the baby, put my bonnet together, and churn the butter.”

Rest. It holds different meanings for each of us, so I can’t pass judgement on Alice’s definition. What if she’d learned the value of resting her mind, even if responsibilities didn’t disappear?

What if we practiced that? Met our moments, our minutes — demands and requests and pleas and desires, all — with open hands and settled hearts? Considered what’s critical now, what can wait, what needs to be dismissed entirely? Why are we offended by quietude?

May you find the balance. The balance between tackling that to-do list and tending a tired heart. May you welcome opportunities to rest, to quiet your soul, to nurture the souls in your care when everything around you screams for attention. And may your every word and glance and action toward others be filled with mercy and grace. They’re trying to figure it out, too.

Love and joy are holy, eternal pursuits; spotless houses and picture-perfect lives — success by the world’s standards — are not.

Song for a Fifth Child

Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby, loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.)

Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby. Babies don’t keep.