Our Former House on the City Street

Our Former House on the City Street

In our former house on a city street, snow was the only hope for silence.

Every other day was filled with sounds of cars and trucks whizzing by, occasionally hitting the telephone pole that sat only inches away from the road. Across the street was the police department and catty-corner to the old home place was the fire department. No time was sacred — the blaring horn and flashing lights swooped by our house day and night. I’m thankful for their service but having a fire department for a neighbor doesn’t make for a quiet home.

But when the snow fell, there was a glorious mingling of silence and awe.

Craving more silence than a bi-yearly snow event (if we were lucky!) my heart began yearning for a quieter space — not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually. I wanted a place where my words could settle before being dampened by a siren. When our grandchildren moved 45 minutes north of the city that only fueled the desire to move even more.

And move is exactly what we did. In the past, our house was the deciding factor, not the land or lot. But this time we flipped the normal pattern. We wanted a few acres, away from any busy roads, and if possible, a mountain view. God blessed us with all three. The house is slowing becoming a home — our home — thanks to Brian’s mad house-spiffing up skills. {I plan to share some before and after pics in the coming weeks!}

This past weekend, snow fell to the tune of 4+ inches at our “new” home near the mountains. Although silence is now the norm {except for a nearby rooster crowing and hunting dogs howling}, snow is still a welcomed guest. It reminds me how vital silence is to my walk and well-being. Thankfully, we can all experience silence of the significant sort regardless of where we live. But for those like me who are uber sensitive to surrounding sounds, it’s helpful to live somewhere other than a busy city street.

Barn in the Snow

Our Barn on the Hill

So why is it vital that we seek out silence (confident that it won’t go in search of us)?

  • Silence is good for our health. According to this study, children living near the Munich airport had significantly higher blood pressure than children in quieter neighborhoods, putting them at risk for heart problems later in life.
  • Periodic silence breeds creativity. Our minds are bombarded with texts, emails, calls, alerts, etc. Just like paper needs whitespace in order for our words to breathe, so our mind needs silent space.
  • Most importantly, silence invites the voice of God to speak and it inclines our ears to hear. This virtue of silence is prized among all others as it alone has the power to usher in the only voice that brings change from the inside out. You know, the lasting type. Silence offers us the privilege and opportunity of “hearing” from the One who gives hope to the hopeless, joy to those struggling to make it through another day, peace in the midst of chaos. And as we receive it, we also give it — through our lives, the stories we write, and the songs we sing.

So, how do we incorporate more periodic silence into our daily lives? Nothing new here but it bears repeating based on the above:

  • Choose it. No one else can do it for us. If silence doesn’t come easy for you, start out with one-minute intervals throughout your day. Have no agenda other than to remain silent. Speaking of which…
  • Lose it. The ringer, that is. Turn off your phone and shut the laptop when practicing a time of silence.
  • Refuse it. Turn off your radio when you’re in the car. I know, it’s hard for me too as I love music and the voices of Chuck Swindoll, James MacDonald, and Chip Ingram, but refuse to allow the sounds of the world {even the good sounds} to rob us from the best sound of all…silence.
The View From Our Front Porch

The View From Our Front Porch

Before you go, in celebration of the first snow that fell at our new home and maybe yours too, savor these words from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. Her poem, First Snow:

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain โ€” not a single
answer has been found โ€”
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

How do you incorporate periodic silence into your life? Do you find silence to be a friend or foe? Please share in the comment section!

 

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