|Home > Articles > A Taste of Home > ""|
/_-large.jpg" width=200 height=135 alt="" border=0 align=left hspace=14 vspace=10>
by Philip Gulley
The older I get, the more I appreciate three things.
There are other things I appreciate, but good shoes, old friends, and silence strike me as basic ingredients of a quality life. Ive always worn good shoes, even when I didnt earn a lot of money This was because my mother taught me never to skimp on anything that came between me and the ground. Whenever I purchase shoes or car tires, I dont pinch pennies.
My friend Jim is a wise man, except when it comes to shoes. He used to brag about how inexpensive his shoes were. Because he wore cheap shoes, he now has bad feet and can barely walk when he gets up in the morning. Jim doesnt brag about his cheap shoes anymore. Even if he started wearing good shoes, it probably wouldnt help. Once your feet are ruined, thats it.
I have good feet because for the past twenty years Ive worn L. L. Bean ankle-high leather chukkas, built on a Dublin last. Size 9. 1 buy a new pair every three years. They are expensive shoes and worth every penny I keep several new pairs in my closet just in case L. L. Bean stops making them. If I were ranking the characteristics of a blessed life, good shoes would be near the top.
Along with comfortable shoes, I would list old friends. By old friends I dont mean friends Ive known a long time. I mean people it seems Ive known forever. How long youve known someone is no indication of your fondness for them. An old friend is someone I no longer feel the need to impress. I have lots of regular friends, but only four old friends. Im not going to name their names, because I dont want to hurt the feelings of the people who are just regular friends.
The third quality of the blessed life is silence. The older I get the more I crave it. People in my family start losing their hearing around the age of seventy. What a wonderful coincidence that we start losing our hearing the same time we start appreciating silence. By the time youre seventy, youve heard the best sounds this world has to offer your grandchildren, Hank Williams, and katydids in August. By silence, I dont mean an atmosphere void of any sound. I mean an atmosphere free of radios, voices, engines, sirens, and television. Natural noises are fine. If Im sitting on our porch swing and all I can hear are katydids, crickets, and frogs, I consider that silence. Wondrous silence. But if the teenage boy next door revs his car engine, its no longer silent. Its the silence of katydids, crickets, and frogs that I crave.
I have friends who can name the very day of their Christian conversion. I am that way about silence. I became an appreciator of peace and quiet on July 24, 1992, the day our first child was born. This is nothing against my son, whom I love deeply I am simply acknowledging that there are trade-offs in life. You can either have peace and quiet or you can have children. You cant have both. I chose children and would choose them again. But I miss silence.
I begin every morning with silence by taking a walk in the woods and meadows next to my house. Its good exercise and I do it every day, unless its raining or Ive overslept and run out of time. But, I hike those trails at least once a week. Actually I havent started yet, but Ive been planning to start for quite some time now and am going to do it just as soon as I can find the right kind of hiking socks to wear with my L. L. Bean chukkas. You can ruin your feet if you dont wear the right socks.
There lives a man down the road who hikes the trails every morning. It is the silence that draws him. He retired from a large corporation, having tired of hearing people drone on about their money and their success. He bore such noise for thirty years, then moved here for the peace and quiet. When he arrived he was jangled and nervous; now he is serene and composed. He attributes his healing to the silence, and I believe him.
One morning when we were visiting on my porch, I offered him a bit of wisdom from the Quaker William Penn: True silence is rest for the mind. It is to the spirit what sleep is to the body nourishment and refreshment. The retired man said he wished someone had read that to him when he was twenty years old. I told him it wouldnt have mattered, that silence is something you must grow to cherish like comfortable shoes.
Most people claim to like silence, though I doubt it. If people wanted silence, theyd think twice about filling their homes with noisemakers. Noise inhibits inward peace by distracting us from spiritual self-examination. It keeps us from discerning our souls condition. Silence is the spiritual knife which lays open our souls. If we are never silent, we never have to examine the truth about ourselves. This is why monks and Quakers are quiet: so they can discover that which can be found only in silence. But spiritual self-examination is painful, which is why there arent a lot of monks and Quakers.
Most of us need more silence than we get. Others of us have too much. The people who need silence dont get it. The ones who have silence often dont need it. This is a great problem in life, and if I only had enough silence, I could maybe figure out how to fix it.
Author: Philip Gulley
Publication Date: March 20, 2003
Heartlight only exists because of your support! Click above to visit a sponsor, or donate to join us in our ministry.