It seems amazing to me that every morning I wake up and actually feel the day around me. I have not always done this. As a high school AND night school teacher, bus driver, a convenience store clerk, my days are full. My 120 hour work week is full. Life with my children is full, no, bulging with activities: blood drives, car washes, prom, cedar clearing, play practice, Boy Scouts, fostering kittens, and church events. Originally, I thought I embraced the day that God had given me, but I was simply going through what looked like an embrace. Really it was one of those namby-pamby quasi-arms around the shoulders and barely touching the other’s back motions.
However, now in the mornings when I leave my porch to chauffer raucous students who range from kinder to seniors, I listen to the whippoorwills calling each other from the trees and down into the canyon that runs down the side of my property. I take this as a sign to stop for just a moment and feel what is around me. The gray walking sticks, a phenomenon of an insect which resembles a short piece of bark, hang from the siding under the porch light at discordant angles. This is nature’s “post-it” to take a deep breath and remember to look down at Mr. Bump, the huge toad who lives under the boards and eats June bugs. It has actually been quiet enough for me to hear the crunch as he gulps down a monster cicada.
Once in Sunday school I implored the members of my class to tell me how they heard God speak to them. Lee, my almost 90 year old friend and mentor, put his hand on my knee and simply said, “You have to listen for the quiet voice.”
“Listen? LISTEN! I AM listening!” I maintained, but I was not listening, not in the way that I could have been listening, so I started to listen to everything: the hum of my computer, the ticking of the hands of the classroom clocks, the sighs of sleeping adolescent boys, the crunch of my feet on the kaliche, what people meant, not what they said, and, most importantly, the sound of my own laughter which had been absent for a very long time.
The still, quiet voice did come, but in a way that I least expected. Once I started to really hear what the world had to offer me, I soaked it all in, and it spread to my other senses. When the sun comes over the Texas Hill Country on those bumpy early morning rides over county back roads, I shout to my sleeping charges in our yellow cocoon, “Look at that sunrise! That has to be a nine! NO, make that a ten! Wake up and see the free show!” I can hear their eyes locking upward in distain, hoping that I will go back to driving and humming, and break into “Froggy Went a Courtin’” although quietly, please. Anything but that supreme optimism that only those who truly hear possess. My poor students stare as if I have three eyes when I tell them I can’t wait to die because I have never done THAT before. My own children try to tell me of the world and its evil ways but I simply hold that they watch too much TV. I actually taste my well water as I gulp huge swallows in the heat of the day. I feel the coolness of my flannel sheets and the grain of my bad-dog Mikey’s wirey hair. I smell the lantana and Maximillian daisies and the earth and my own skin and know that I am smelling the earth’s own purity.
Is there a place in this world for those who truly hear and consequently see and feel and taste and touch? Yes. We are brethren, a secret society of people who lacked until we became quiet and made a path for the truth of silence to enter us and perform a miracle called by some an awakening. This I believe.
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