The house is quiet. Oh, not deathly silent with no stray hum of a motor to break the stillness. The clocks still tick along and strike their way unceasingly toward morning. The dogs are restless outside the jalousie window, scratching at the soft dirt in their sleep, whining a bit at dream squirrels poking their heads into their slumber.
And yet, it is quiet.
It wasn’t so earlier in the day, the scrape of chairs on hardwood floor near the dining room table only a small contribution to the boisterous racket in every corner of the old house. Raised voices, thumping piano keys, and rowdy children’s programs on the big screen TV rattled the antique dishes on the shelves and the artwork on the walls.
And, that was before we went outside. Skateboard down the ramp, volleyball game in the grass, along with a little touch football — even three (count ’em, three!) walk/run/skipping trips up to the university where their Lovely Lady of a grandmother works — had no effect whatsoever on the decibel level.
It was glorious. Glorious.
And then their mom came and took them away.
Silence fills the house. It does. The quiet fills rooms every bit as much as the noise did earlier.
And, it’s delightful. Really. Delightful.
The Lovely Lady has (as have all normal humans) gone to bed long ago. I listened to music for a while, but somehow there is more to hear in the silence tonight.
Some nights are like that, with voices of their own speaking while never breaking the silence.
For a while in the cacophony of children earlier, I sat in my easy chair and heard the same voice in the commotion. They probably thought I was sleeping. They could have been partially right.
But I was realizing (in the times when I wasn’t napping) that life’s changes are eerily similar in their beginnings and in their endings.
It wasn’t that long ago we were tiptoeing around the house as the grandchildren napped, worried we might disturb their slumber. For that matter, it wasn’t much longer ago my own children were the ones napping while we tiptoed and whispered.
Naps are sacred things. They must be; we’re so reluctant to disturb them. At any age.
As I sat in my easy chair, I realized it was the children who were beginning to speak a little more quietly — they who were reluctant to disturb the sleeping one in the room. Even when it was necessary to talk to me, they did so with quiet, hesitant voices, as if in apology.
Quiet soon modulates to rowdy in the cycle of our lives. And then, quiet returns.
Somehow, we equate the silence with sadness, with melancholy. The noise and bustle, we consider joyful and high-spirited.
Right, on both counts. Also — wrong — on both counts.
I’ve been in some astounding silences — spectacular periods of awe and astonishment. And, I’ve been in some disastrous silences — dreadful times of disbelief and shock.
The noise has many times been full of joy and wonderment. But, it has been at other moments, horrific, even heart-stopping.
Life happens in the noise. And, in the silence.
The followers of Jesus, in the roaring and terror of the storm at sea, heard His voice. So did the howling wind and the towering waves.
Peace! Be still. (Mark 4:39)
The same voice reaches into our hearts during those times, as well. Hearing it takes some practice.
Both in the din and in the quiet, it takes practice.
I am reminded tonight of the cycle of life I’m entering. Already, the periods of silence have stretched from mere minutes to hours a day. My mind wants to fill the silence with noise again, to cram the hours chock-full of something — anything to keep the silence at bay.
None of us like to be reminded of the cycle.
Quiet! The baby is sleeping.
Wow! What a party!
Shhh! He needs his rest.
Ah, but I am reminded that after silence comes noise again.
I am unashamedly a believer in Heaven. The place where we’ll be with our Savior.
Life after death.
Can I say this? Eternity isn’t going to be quiet.
Singing and shouting, tears over and forgotten — in that noisy day, we’ll still be hearing the same voice that spoke through the bedlam and hubbub, and into the quiet, sleepless nights.
And it will still be glorious.
I’m learning to listen.
Practice makes. . .
Well, you get it, don’t you?
After this, I heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting,
“Praise the Lord!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.”
(Revelation 19:1 ~ NLT ~ New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.)
Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done.
Go to heaven a-shoutin’
Love for the Father and the Son.
(from Go Rest High On That Mountain ~ Vince Gill ~ © Kobalt Music Publishing, Ltd. ~ 1995)