A strange thing happened in my house this afternoon.
No, it wasn't the visit with cousins this morning that was very much enjoyed; that's not at all strange, and was probably the high point of my girls' week. And it wasn't the fact that no one got too grumpy when the cousins had to go home, not even Hatchick who alone of the girls still had some schoolwork to complete for the day.
No, it was what happened after Hatchick was finished with her schoolwork and picked up a book to read; Bookgirl and Kitten were already off doing some quiet reading/writing/crafting kinds of things. It was as I was glancing at a blog or two in a desultory fashion that I looked up, noticing the oddness of the moment, and listening intently to it.
Real silence, not silence punctuated by noisy activity in some other part of the house or the music or beeping of some electronic toy or other. Lasting silence, a quiet that persisted for a good hour or so. Innocent silence, not that sickening quiet produced by toddlers or young children who are up to no good, and who mistakenly think that if they're quiet about it you won't notice.
Oh, there were ambient noises, of course. The turning of a book's pages, the rattling hum of the refrigerator that has sounded like it's on its deathbed for at least the last two years now but which is actually a hypochondriac of the first order, the occasional "click" of the mouse's buttons as I visited a blog or two and read what other moms have to say. But for the most part, it was really, really quiet; and it was really, really weird.
It's not that it's never quiet around here. Preteen girls have a propensity to go off into their rooms and whisper and giggle; once the girls are in bed at night, the house settles down into a placid sort of hum as Mr. C and I spend time together talking, watching a movie or pursuing a hobby or two; last night, our "quiet time" was punctuated by the sounds of Mr. C's bread baking efforts and my extremely uncharacteristic addiction to the Mac version of this game (I'm a total non-video-game sort of person; this is only the second time in my life that I've been addicted to a computer game of sorts, and the first time I was about thirteen years old and the game was a sort of hand held space invaders knockoff). So, our evening last night sounded something like this:
Red: (Blam! Blam! Blam!) Oh, drat; I just can't beat level 52!
Mr. C: Have you ever heated this oven to 500 degrees before?
Red: (Blam! Blam! Blam!) Five hundred degrees?? Are you sure that's what the recipe says?
Mr. C: The bread doesn't bake at that temperature. I'm supposed to preheat the baking stone.
Red: (Blam! Blam! Blam!) I've had the oven to 450; it should be okay.
Mr. C: This dough is still really soft. Maybe I should forget the freeform loaf and bake this in bread pans.
Red: (Blam! Blam!....ominous losing music....) Sigh. I still can't beat level 52. What did you say?
Mr. C: I could bake this in loaf pans...
Red: Oh, I still think you should try the recipe the way you were planning to! (Stirring opening music begins...Blam! Blam! Blam!)
And so forth, until rather late actually because the freeform loaf took a little while to construct.
Even during the night last night it wasn't silent, thanks to the edges of the thunderstorm that just skimmed past us around 3 a.m. The thunder was accompanied by the usual opening of doors and scurrying of scared little feet (Hatchick hates thunderstorms) and followed by the not quite usual closing of our bedroom door while I was still tucking Hatchick back in; Mr. C., barely awake, didn't realize I had left the room with her and closed the door behind us. My giggling over the matter added to the background rumbles of the fainthearted thunder, which never did justify waking us all up with its early bluster.
So silence, real, total, undisturbed silence is a rare commodity in my life, as it quite possibly is in yours, too. It took me by surprise this afternoon, and I enjoyed it for as long as it lasted, the sheer peace and tranquility and harmony of it all.
And even when it was over I felt rested, as though I'd had a long nap or a quiet walk through a shady forest instead of an hour or so of quiet in my living room. I'd almost forgotten how nice a little peace and quiet could feel.
It may be years before spontaneous silence occurs again, but I could start making more of an effort to schedule some now and again. Silence does more than refresh the soul; it opens a little pathway that lets us hear what God has to say to us, even when all He has to say is, "Listen."