We sit side by side in the early morning light, feet on sand, eyes to the horizon. The air rolls off the sea in bossy gusts, turns the pages of my book and my hair wild.

Hilton Head

We took the short walk from the beach house together thirty minutes before, chairs balanced on our shoulders, walking so as not to spill our coffee. And now we sit to wait for the morning show.

To wait is the point.

Still, I catch myself staring at a particular bright spot on the horizon and convince myself it’s the tip of the sun. The bright curve of morning seems poised to rise up like a promise, but it just sits there, unmoving.

Turns out what I thought was the sun is only a reflection on a cloud.

What gives? Isn’t it time?

I close my book. Tap my foot. Exhale a sigh and watch the sky again.

Even here on vacation, where the actual point is to slow down and rest, I learn all over again how both my mind and my body are still addicted to hurry.

“In the act of silence you’re not waiting for God to make a move. You’re becoming aware of the moves he is making.” – Brennan Manning

It’s possible to value silence and solitude and still be waiting for God to make a move rather than simply becoming aware of the moves he is making.

It might sound like the same thing but, for me at least, it isn’t.

It’s the difference between waiting for and being with.

It’s the difference between a huffy exhale and a slow inhale.

It’s the difference between tapping my foot and closing my eyes.

Because guess what is always on time?

The sun rises up in all her glory and not one of us on the beach has a solitary thing to do with it. We can’t speed her up, slow her down, or stop her coming. God set the world in motion and we spin on and on.

*  *  *

That was back in June, in the middle of our family vacation. Ever since it feels like I’ve been “waiting for my soul to catch up with my body,” Eugene Peterson style.

Three months, really Emily?

I don’t know if it’s my age or a delayed recovery from publishing four books in five years or the travel from the South Carolina coast to the Italian countryside to the stunning land of Israel and back again. But lately I’ve become aware of a gap between my desire and my ability to sit still without an agenda.

I know this is all part of life, all part of the ebb and flow and rhythm of being a person. That’s why it doesn’t disturb me, not really.

I keep showing up in my morning chair even though I tap my foot more than I close my eyes. I continue to sit in the presence of Jesus even though it feels like nothing more often than something. I continue to believe that faith “is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1)

If you feel like you’ve been doing silence and solitude wrong, you’re not. Just keep on coming. Keep sitting and listening and refuse to carry shame when you fidget and fight and nothing seems to change. If you need a little help, you might enjoy these 7 days of still moments, delivered for free into your inbox for a week.