Ditch Digging, Being Silent, and Keeping Company

DithDiggingHeaderPic I sit on a large rock embedded with tiny shells and sea fragments that the builders left in our backyard. Probably because it was too much of a bother to haul away. Architectural detail, they doubtless thought.

The hot and humid Missouri air has a slight breeze to it that moves the pointed tip oval birch leaves that block the sun’s glare. An easy silence falls between us as I watch my husband wiggle the shovel one hand deep into the clay soil that surrounds our house, our neighborhood, our town. So different it is from the loamy soil we left in Washington. Clay clumps together, is heavy, can need a crow bar to break it up when dry. He tosses the soil from the shovel onto a strip of plastic that borders the trench he is hand digging. He hits a rock, stops and wipes his forehead, then starts again.

He is planning, executing, and creating a drainage system to collect the rainwater from two of our gutters, as well as the neighbor’s gutters, which flow joyfully into our yard. The ditches will hold PVC pipe that will carry the water to the back edge of our yard to join the neighborhood deluge that flows down and past, seeking the safety of the nearby creek.

“To hot to dig,” he laughs.

“That’s why I am sitting and watching. No supervising,” I giggle.

He is my husband and we are spending time together. Talking. Silence. A few laughs. Handing him something to drink. Passing him the level so he can measure the depth.

DitchDigging1My first inclination is not to sit out there with him. Wasting time, I might call it. And yet early on I learned that he likes me near when he does projects, often on weekends. Usually I help him with the task, but digging is something I don’t want to do. Something he won’t allow me to do. But still he wants me close. Wants company. Wants to spend time together.

“Come talk to me,” he called, when I brought him water.

I know his Morse code. He is actually saying, spend some time with me. Show me you care enough to give me some of your valuable time. Pass time with me. Watch me, talk to me, tell me some story of yourself, love me.

Sometimes I groan and want to tell him that he is old enough to work alone. And yes, often he does work alone, but I also know from experience that a task always goes quicker, is less cumbersome when company comes to share the space next to us or lends a helping hand.

I have slowly learned this secret of my husband. He likes me nearby sometimes when he is working. He will be heading out to mow the lawn and say, “Come outside and spend time with me.”

DitchDigging2DitchDigging3I used to think, am I supposed to walk along side the mower and shout over the motor.

No, he just wants someone nearby. Company. When he looks up from his straight rows he’s carving in the grass, he wants to see someone, a friendly face, someone he loves. He wants to be reminded that he is doing this task for the good of his wife and family. So I head out and water plants, deadhead, sweep the garage with the door open so he can see me. Sometimes I sit for awhile in the driveway and watch him, or talk to the neighbors. And when he is done sheering the grass he comes over and we will sit and talk a few minutes and then he will thank me for my help. Not that I did anything really, but I helped the task fly quicker and made him feel less lonely.

He is Adam wanting companionship, and I am his Eve.

And when the day is done, isn’t it more important that I sat in the shade of the tree watching him dig trenches for the PVC pipe and helping him solve the drop of the trench needed to carry the water, and that we talked through nothing and something than me answering emails, cleaning toilets, baking cookies, or writing my book? Because after all, spending a long afternoon with my husband bonds us in a way that other things can’t. The silence and laughter ties the cords that connect us to one another. And what better way to get to know someone or say I love you than to spend an afternoon with them doing not much of anything?

The same applies to God. We won’t get to know Him very deeply if we just visit with Him at only church. Hi, thanks, please, and good-by. See you next week.

DitchDiggingQuote2During the week we need to sit quietly sometimes listening, occasionally commenting. We need to think about His word we read earlier in the day, perhaps when nursing, cleaning the bathroom, driving to work. Short prayers throughout the day shorten the cords between us and remind us of our purpose, readjust our perspectives. Thank yous whispered aloud acknowledge Him as the giver of all good gifts and the creator of all. Songs lift our spirits.

Spending time with God, our husband, our children, or others can be hard because it takes that one precious commodity we all have so little of—time itself. So many demands already clamor for our time. But yet it takes the sacrifice of time, valuable time unselfishly allotted out to others before we can move to a deeper level, a more intimate and secret level with them. A level where you can begin to read their Morse code.


Join the Discussion: How do you keep company with your husband, children, others, or with God?

7 Replies to “Ditch Digging, Being Silent, and Keeping Company”

  1. I struggle with this sometimes – being present but not preoccupied. My mind is always busy – always moving on to the next thing or getting lost in deep trenches of thought. And it seems a waste of time to be watching and doing little but keeping company. I know in my heart that it is time well spent, but it is still a challenge for me to let myself go there. I am going to work on it, though, because those quiet moments are where the magic of connection really happens, whether we are talking about relationships with family or with God. Thank you for your wise words

    • Lynnette, Thanks for being so honest. It is so easy for me to struggle with this too because when keeping company with another so little visible seems to be accomplished. I clean a bathroom and it looks noticeably better (especially the longer I wait to clean it). Spending time with my family doesn’t have such immediate and dramatic effects. But long run . . . that’s where the effects are seen and what I have to keep in mind. This is not always easy in this results oriented and get-things-done society.

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