I open my eyes shortly after the sun comes up, never with an alarm any more. I silently put on my bathrobe and slippers and slide downstairs. I make coffee. While it’s brewing, I feed our two cats and open the blinds to see the sunshine (or the falling rain, or the gray clouds).
I fill a coffee mug, then sit in the living room with my Bible facing the narrow window. We don’t have a picture window in this house, and I miss that. I see drivers leaving the apartment complex across the street, heading to work. Several school buses rumble past, in both directions. A dad and a preschooler walk to the apartment complex driveway, where they wait for yet another bus to pick him up for a half-day of school. (I’ve seen the return bus about 11:30 a.m.)
All is silent. Just the motors of vehicles. Occasionally, the wind. After the morning rush, a jogger or a biker in the neighborhood. Alone with my thoughts.
On my second cup of coffee, I open my Bible and read a chapter. I try to focus on what I’m reading. Somedays, I do better than others. A friend is leading a Facebook Bible study, so that helps me concentrate. Sometimes, I’ll comment on his thread.
Alone with my thoughts. Sometimes, my mind wanders.
At least twice a week, I’ll put on some shorts or sweats and go for a walk or light jog, usually in a nearby park. I don’t own earbuds. It’s just me and nature and, not often enough, God. Again, my mind wanders. I do some of my best thinking and meditating on the trail.
Many times, I see deer. Twice, I’ve gotten so close to one or two deer that I could almost touch them. Literally. I don’t take a camera with me either, so you’ll have to trust me on this. My eyes are the best lens to the world I know.
This time of year, I watch the leaves turn color, then crunch them under my feet on the path. I keep walking when it snows. I can see a long way through the bare trees, and feel the sub-freezing air on my cheeks. I like that. In the spring, the trail floods with runoff from the rain, so I skip around puddles when I can and often get my socks wet. No matter. I keep going. In the summer, the path eventually dries and the leaves are full and green, rustling in the wind. I’ll work up a good sweat on the hottest days. I like that too.
I’ll say “good morning” to others I pass along the trail. I’ll see the same folks frequently, walking in ones or twos or threes, and we acknowledge each other. Each of us has a story. We walk on.
Silence. I rarely watch TV until late afternoon/early evening. In the meantime, I’ll find soft music on the radio or online. But not always.
These days, I have plenty of time for silence. Some days, too much. I want to go someplace, do something. Plenty of alone time. It’s good. I like it. Usually.
Many people complain how busy life is. I’ve never lived like that. One summer when I was in college, I came down with pneumonia. Even the sight of food made me nauseous. I lost 15 pounds in 10 days. I don’t recommend that diet. Ever since then, I get tired easily. I need my eight hours each night. During the day, if I go-go-go, I’ll burn out. I’ll get sick. I know this about me.
So, I pace myself. Some days, I feel left behind. Others, I am right where I want to be.
Even when I worked full-time and we were raising three sons, I awoke early (usually before the alarm went off) and spent some time alone with God. This gave me perspective. Start slowly, then build up to the day’s worries and issues.
Silence. God’s gift to me.
What have I done with silence? I write in a journal occasionally, have for years. Not proud of my writings recently – I complain a lot. I hope God understands.
Sometimes, I’ll go for a drive. Alone. Nowhere in particular. Or, maybe I will have a destination, not too far from home. My grandparents are buried in Cleveland, about an hour from here. I’ve been there a couple of times.
I’ll read a book, one I’ve read before off the shelf or one I haven’t from the library. Frequently, I’ll put on some soft music, curl up under a blanket and read – or, more likely, let my mind wander. I’m a slow reader.
That may not be silence, but it’s calm. Even when the cats jump in my lap or stare at me with big, drooping eyes. They like attention, and I like giving it to them.
Is silence golden? Sometimes. Not always. But it’s better than cacophony. Turn off the noise. Get off Facebook for awhile. Spend some time alone with your thoughts. You do have them, you know. And your thoughts matter.
I keep telling myself this. Maybe one day I’ll believe it.