The other day, I was sitting in my living room, working of a story, when it suddenly dawned on me that it was very quiet in my house. Silence, while not exact, is nice sometimes. It isn’t exact, because the clock was ticking, the birds chirping, an occasional car drove by, or a plane went overhead, and even a gust of wind could be heard; but for the most part, it was truly very quiet. I’m not one of those people who has to have noise around me. In fact, I would rather not have too much noise, most of the time. They quiet can be very reflective and peaceful, but we seldom get it. It seems like there is always some noise going on in the world, demanding our attention. Even the little kids have moments when the noise level is just too much. Even a sibling crying can feel like a lot. I have always been one to like the quiet, so I can think my own thoughts and analyze the things going on around me. I like quiet reflection.
The world’s noise is very demanding. Sometimes it almost screams at us. In stark contrast, the silence is relaxing. It doesn’t force itself on us. It simply lingers patiently in the atmosphere. Maybe that is why the song, “Silence is Golden,” was penned. It is a fleeting moment, like a sunset, and then it is gone, and the family has come home, the television is turned on, the chatter begins, and the silence is shattered. We must enjoy those moments when they show up, because we really never know how long they will last, or when the next one might occur. Silent moments are really a gift of God for those of us who don’t relish the chaotic noise of a normal day, but even we don’t always “notice” them.
Sometimes we are too caught up in our own thoughts to realize that the silence has descended upon us. I wonder how that is possible, but I guess that sometimes our own thoughts can be very noisy. Consider the last time you had trouble falling asleep. What was going on? Well, if you’re like me, your head was filled with thoughts…the cares of the day, that you just couldn’t seem to shut off. What we wouldn’t give to be able to shut off the noise of our thoughts. We can go to an empty place, away from the outside noises, away from family, and turn off the television and radio; but those pesky thoughts in our head are very hard to turn off. Oh…that we could only have a switch for that. Then maybe we could finally get to sleep.
Yesterday was our office picnic, which was held at my boss…he hates that word…and his wife, Julie’s cabin on the mountain. We always have such a wonderful time up there. It’s so quiet and peaceful…and yet filled with a flurry of activity. Of course, most of that flurry of activity is not of the human kind. The wildlife around their cabin is constantly busy…especially the hummingbirds. In the past I have tried to capture these amazing birds with my iPhone’s camera, and while it took good pictures of them, I could never really capture them in the way that I wanted to…until yesterday.
While we were waiting for the food to be ready, we watched the hummingbirds snacking on their food…a sugar water mix…yum!! Not quite what I would have wanted to dinner, but I guess to each his own. Hummingbirds are such fun to watch…especially when there are so many of them. On the mountain, people who have feeders and who slow down long enough, will be treated to dozens of hummingbirds diving toward them, to get the feeders. The birds, of all kinds, are always in a flurry of activity. They never slow down. We watched Hummingbirds, Mountain Chickadees, Woodpeckers, and even a Cassin’s Finch…maybe not rare, but one I hadn’t seen before. My camera was snapping constantly. I especially loved the shots of the hummingbirds fighting over the feeders, like there wasn’t enough feeders to go around.
The squirrels were a little more shy than some of the other animals, as were the deer, but I managed to get pictures of both, even if they were a little leery of me, and my motives for being in their space. The deer watched apprehensively, mostly, but the squirrels were very vocal about their disapproval of my presence…not that their chatter changed the situation, because my time in nature is far more limited that theirs, so they will just have to put up with me for a little while.
Of course, taking pictures of the wildlife was not the whole picnic, and we enjoyed such a wonderful time with friends and family, along with great food. Our time at Jim and Julie’s cabin is always a great fun, and it reminds us just how blessed we are to have them in our lives. I cannot think of better people to know and work for. God really does put people in our lives to make them rich and greatly blessed, and I thank him every day for those he has put into my life. Amazing family and friends…it doesn’t get better than that.
So much has changed since I was a kid, or even a young mother. No, I’m not talking about walking 5 miles to school in the snow uphill both ways…mostly because that was a story that belonged to my dad…who assured us that it was exactly what he did. I’m talking about the way people discipline…or often, don’t discipline their kids. It’s not exactly the fault of the parent that doesn’t discipline either, because these days disciplining your child is a step most young parents take with great apprehension, and who can blame them. Years ago, some idiot who had no kids, decided that it was cruel and unusual punishment to spank your kids…probably because they got spanked and didn’t like it, but since they don’teven have kids, they shouldn’t tell the rest of us how to discipline our kids.
I’m very much against child abuse, or the abuse of anyone for that matter, but a correctly administered spanking is simply not abuse…it is a show of love. A child who is given no boundaries, doesn’t feel loved. Imagine putting your one year old on the roof of a building with nothing to stop them from falling off and walking away. Are you showing love? No, you are showing them that you don’t care about them.
Well, I can tell you that my parents loved me!! And I can tell you that my girls know they are loved too. And we knew the rules, though I can’t say that we always kept them…but after the spanking, we wished we had. I never liked spanking the girls in public, because it wasn’t about embarrassing them, it was about disciplining them, but the public restroom worked very nicely. Everyone might have known what was about to happen, but the girls had time to compose themselves before they had to face the world again.
Still, there was one way to discipline your child in public and only you and your child knew it, which could be very funny. There is a place at that spot where your neck connects to your shoulder, that can be very painful if pinched. No you don’t have to leave a mark, just give that skin a good squeeze. Your child will let out a yelp and may start crying, like my daughter did, right in the middle of a store, but after she dropped to the floor crying, and I walked on down the isle, she looked up and found everyone staring at her wondering if she was crazy, she decided that I had won that battle. Throwing a fit when no one can see what is wrong with you can be very embarrassing, and with my daughter, it only happened once. Yes, they got pinched there again if they needed it, but they took their punishment in silence, and behaved themselves afterward…not to mention going to the store became a much more peaceful time for me.
These days,I suppose many people would frown on my discipline style, which just goes to show how much things have changed, but my girls were well behaved, and I could take them anywhere. And once they know that you have ways to discipline that will fit the situation, they tend to choose not to push your buttons. The result of button pushing can be uncomfortable.
I am not a Winter person, which is odd since I live in Wyoming, because we definitely get Winter. Still, there are times when I feel differently about it. Normally, the cold and, in Wyoming, the wind annoy me, as does the ice on the roads, but every once in a while, there is a night…or even just a few minutes that I feel…peaceful in the snow.
Life these days is so hectic, and there is seldom a moment to slow down, much less look around for beauty in the night air, so when there is a rare moment of peace and quiet, you want to savor it for as long as you can, before the rest of your hectic life catches up with the present time and you must return to normalcy…or maybe it is chaos.
I’m talking about that moment when you step outside, and it is so very quiet. Even though I live in a city, and quiet moments are rare, it was a moment with no cars going by. It took me by surprise. I just stepped outside, and stopped…because it was so very quiet. Everything was so very still that it felt like…a whisper. It’s hard for me to clearly describe that moment. It was so peaceful…so beautiful. It was the kind of moment when it felt, almost criminal to speak, because that kind of silence should not be broken. It was a gift, a precious moment of quiet, peaceful beauty…and it seemed to be here just for me, because no one else was around to notice or to care.
The sky was white and cold looking and the trees were perfectly still. The air was so still that it almost felt like it was frozen solid, and hanging there…suspended above the Earth. The night was so beautiful that it took my breath away. The moon peeked through the clouds and cast a soft light on the Earth below it. Along the street there were Christmas light twinkling, bringing the reminder of the wonderful season we are in. But, the amazing thing was that no one disturbed the silence, because no one was outside in the area but me.
In my hectic life, this particular moment felt totally foreign to me, and I couldn’t help but smile, because the whole scene was like stepping into a Christmas card. Perfect in every way. All too often we rush here and there trying to get all of our obligations done, and because there are so many other people out there doing the same thing, we all miss God’s beauty, that was given to us. While there is not much that can be done to slow our hectic lives, I feel very blessed to have been given just a moment that made me stop in awe and wonder at the peaceful scene around me.
My Dad took such pride in his back yard. It was a sanctuary for him and my mom. Peaceful and quite, they could get away from the hectic day there. In the summertime, we would often eat dinner out there, because it was a lovely back yard. Mom and Dad always liked to work in the yard, planting flowers, and creating rock gardens…all the things that give a feeling of peace.
Not being a gardening type myself, I nevertheless always appreciate beautiful gardens and yards, especially if I don’t have to get them looking that way. My parents always took that great pride in their yard and garden, and it showed. Of course, in my younger years, I hated that we had to help with the yard and garden work, and I probably didn’t give it my best efforts. I liked just about anything better than gardening and yet that was what the family was doing, and they required my help. Now it is my sisters and our families who take care of my mom’s yard. Once a year we get together and do a major clean up in preparation for the coming summer, and before the snow falls, my daughter, grandsons, Bob and I rake and dispose of the leaves. Afterwards, we have lunch in the back yard, and think back on all the lovely times we had out there over the years.
Dad and Mom created their back yard as a haven where the family could gather in our own private…almost campground kind of place, and just enjoy being together. The best memories find my dad at the grill, cooking hamburgers or steaks for dinner, the girls in the kitchen preparing the rest of the meal, and when all is ready, we sit around the picnic table and talk and laugh. Then of course, there is sitting around the fire, or back then the grill, and roasting marshmallows until it got so late that we had to go to bed.
Yes, our family always loved camping, and Dad and Mom made the back yard into an extension of that favorite thing to do, in an effort to incorporate that beloved activity into our everyday lives, and thereby bring the family closer together. A pretty wise move, since we are all still very close to this day. I guess you could say that it was a legacy that they could leave for their kids, and a living legacy of my mom, who is still with us. It is with a grateful heart that I look back on the memories created in the back yard.