“The mighty one, God the Lord, speaks.” – Psalm 50:1 (NRSV)
The kids are on the trampoline and I’m inside trying to get dinner ready. Through the open window I can hear that the squabbling over taking turns is about to turn into shrieking. Usually I’m from the “let-them-work-it-out” school of parenting. This makes sense to a point, because there’s always going to be stuff to work out, and it’s a good idea to figure that out early. But judicious intervention from time to time also makes sense.
I don’t add my yells to theirs, but instead I call out, mildly, considering, “Kids, listen. Take a break from the trampoline. You can try to work it out again later.”
They could continue arguing. But instead they all look relieved. Then the youngest (who loudly proclaimed himself King of the Trampoline just a few seconds before) slides off, just like that, and the children run off through the grass to play something else.
Consider the possibility that sometimes you need a Voice too. A Voice that doesn’t join the yelling but says, mildly, considering, “Let’s all take a break today.”
Consider the possibility that the peace you’ve been looking for—whether in your own backyard or on the national stage—may come as simply as stopping for a moment and for once deciding not to argue. May come as simply as listening to that still, speaking Voice. May come as simply as sliding off whatever high, hectoring place you’ve gotten yourself perched on. May come as simply as letting your feet touch the good, cool, firm earth again.
God, when disagreements turn to full-blown arguments, open our ears to hear your Voice, and the voices of all your children.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.