After the silence, sound is different.
It’s not necessarily better or worse, it’s just different. Maybe it’s more about discernment; being careful about what you’re listening to, who you’re listening to.
And I’m not talking about Who you’re listening to – though every “good Christian” knows when I capitalize Who, I’m referring to Jesus, right? Can you imagine a world in which the Who we’re listening to informs everything else we hear? Glory! We’d glimpse the garden.
After the silence, your ears become a discriminating filter recoiling from noise, resisting the fray.
It’s like when you’ve been skipping rope a long, long while, and you’ve got a certain rhythm…perpetual motion – twirl-skip twirl-skip twirl skip – but then you stop, and only then do you realize how tired you’ve become, how it drained energy like a hole in a bucket. When you pick that rope up to start again, you’ve learned to be more efficient, set limits, make it work for you, not against you.
My Friday morning playlist? The dryer’s tumble, nearby traffic’s rush, my Precious (Praise God from where our coffee flows), moving boxes begging to be unpacked–but loudest is what I don’t hear.
I’m an empty nester, a phrase I do not care for, I suppose because “empty” has more negative connotations than positive? I don’t know. Two of our three are adulting well, fierce and independent, with real jobs and living in places I have nothing to do with that they dare to call home. Sometimes I have to remind myself that isn’t a slight.
The youngest returned to college yesterday after spending the summer living at home, our home. Last summer he worked at a summer camp and the only time he was able to visit was the week he got pneumonia (who gets pneumonia in the summer?!), the same week I had a business trip across the country. Are you kidding me? Only once have I had a trip that took me out of town five days. Thankfully, he wanted to spend summer break with us this year, because, in his words, “it might be my last chance.”
He worked full time(ish) in a local internship and I expected his evenings to be spent hanging out with friends, also home from college. I was wrong. More often than not he was happy to be with us. Between college and camp he had been gone the better part of two years, meaning we had to work through a few things, but overall it was so good. So, so good.
One of those summer nights was my favorite, the one where, standing in our kitchen, our conversation veered deep. His heart opened wide and he invited me into his interior. Sacred places. We ventured into a similar but different space last week, and I considered myself fortunate to have gone “there” twice.
Conditions have to be perfect for those conversations, and the best advice I can offer a parent is to be available when the stars align. And listen more than you speak. Two ears, one mouth–do the math.
With his car jammed full, he turned to tell me good-bye, and like a child or a fool, I started running around the kitchen island. He started to follow until he realized what I was doing, and I said, “If I keep going forever will you stay?” and he answered, “No, I’ll just leave,” so I met him at the sink.
I straightened up and told him all the things I hadn’t. Motherhood-wisdom sometimes means keeping your mouth shut until the right time. I shared specifically how I’m praying for him (based on what he had revealed to me in those special late night conversations). I cast vision for his future. I told him the potential I see in him and reminded him of his strengths, how they can serve others but also himself.
My tears surprised me. Typically, I’m not emotional and sometimes it’s embarrassing or even frustrating when I don’t cry when everyone else is filling buckets. I mean, he is a junior and you’d think I’d be fine when he returns to school.
So, my heart then lips are gushing, words of encouragement fully-informed from our late-night conversations, and the empathetic, compassionate tears in his eyes speak volumes about his strengths and superpowers, and for half a second I want to block the door.
But I don’t. That would serve neither of us. In fact, it would hurt both of us.
So, this morning sounds are different. The hum of my dryer, distant traffic, unpacked boxes, a million thoughts, and my baby back at his Happy Place; yes, I can hear that, too.
But not one drop of noise in the house.