A deep longing – desire – stirs. I push it down. The clock’s ticking dictates how long I can linger over coffee, scripture and verse, writing, reading, praying and contemplation.

I realize with fresh desire how much I took for granted during the quiet and solitude of my stay-at-home-mom years. The house grew gloriously quiet while children were schooled and husband worked. Hours of quiet stretched out before me as I breathed in the fellowship of His presence, faithful animal companion curled at my feet, Bible, journal and pen in hand. It seems so much was accomplished in my quiet heart during those treasured, reflective days.

The flurry of words that pulls me toward the day at hand sounds like the message of a Disney film, “Just keep swimming…just keep swimming…” My husband’s deeply jarring cough adds urgency to the ticking clock and Disney tune – a reminder that I have the responsibility of working outside the home now.

Years have passed since his diagnoses and the decline in his health more obvious now than then. He recently surrendered some outside yard work to a local company with a “green thumb.” It is one of the things he loves to do – work in the yard, cultivate the earth, trim, edge, grow.

I push away the sorrow I feel when I consider the weight of his ongoing necessary surrenders.

The ticking, the tune, grow louder.

I love my job – training students to be counselors – but some days I long for silence to sit in and hours to linger long over coffee, scripture and journal. The day opens wide before me: MORNING – mentored research meeting with student; AFTERNOON – counseling sessions and student supervision; EVENING – teaching. I anticipate the now familiar nightly ritual of soup for dinner late (9 pm), a quick conversation with a husband who has spent the day alone, the news, some sit-ups, and falling into separate beds – another necessary surrender of his illness, nightly oxygen machine, and violent REM-induced thrashing – exiled from one another after 40 + years of sleeping together. Sometimes the necessary surrenders feel so harsh.

And yet…the gift of education, a career after 50…the provision for us through the work my hands have been given to do…is personal, miraculous, stunning. I know He sees me, hears me, answers me…and will always, always come for me.

I turn on the shower and the ticking fades, the Disney tune loses its grip on my thoughts, my heart rate slows and I breathe a thankful prayer for the goodness of His gentle, peace-filled presence – even in the midst of noise.


1 (1)Christine Browning is a lover of story—including her own. She loves to hear and longs to respond well to others’ stories. A late bloomer in the field of education, it is her absolute delight to teach at Milligan College in East Tennessee. She also counsels women who have experienced trauma and abuse. Christine is the mother of three adult children, three incredible grandchildren and has been married for 42+ years to her delightfully playful husband, Tom.
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