Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wishing for Quiet

I haven't written for a few weeks because every time I get ready to sit down and record what I am thinking about, noise ensues.  Life has a funny way of doing that.  Sometimes I stop and wish for quiet - right now Trent is wrestling in the family room with his buddy, Everette, and Kate is giggling and throwing pillows at them.  Our neighbor Erin (Everette's twin sister) is trying to get everyone to "get along" and stop the craziness.  The dishwasher is humming, along with the dryer upstairs.  Chloe, our dog, is panting at my feet.  The ice machine is rattling, the airconditioner is whirring... you get the idea.  And that is just the physical noise.  Then there is the emotional noise that goes on inside the heart - thinking about the tasks that need to be completed for church on Sunday, wandering aimlessly through the thoughts of how I will give Jesus everything and not just the convenient things of my life, making lists (I love lists) in my head of what I need to accomplish to make sure the house runs as it should.  Much of it is just noise, but some of it is much more than noise.  If I take time to consider it, the noise is beautiful.

My kids and I go to deliver meals to elderly shut-ins in our town every Friday.  I have to admit, when we started doing it, I thought it would be great for two reasons:  One - it would be a great way for my kids to  learn to serve when nothing is given in return.  How to love for the sake of Christ.  But Two is a little harder to admit.  Two - I needed a dose of servanthood myself.  I didn't want to serve in anyway that would be inconvenient to the way we are living.  I just wanted to, kind of, "check it off" the list, in a very sick and twisted sort of way.  I didn't realize this when we began this three years ago, but I can be honest with myself now in a new way.  God sometimes reveals the ugliness in my heart just in time for me to wake up to my own selfishness and learn to give more to Him.

We went this past Friday to serve our sweet friends with "Meals on Wheels".  I received the list of homes we were to visit and the list that one year ago had 10 homes on it, is now down to 3...  We drove with our coolers in the back of the car to each house and passed by so many of these homes that now sit vacant and quiet.  And I am so very grateful for the noise.

Home #1 passed by - Buzz and Catherine.  Buzz used to come out when he saw our car pull up waving and smiling his no tooth grin in his overalls.  He already started the conversation with a heart "Hah, Howayoo?"  (translated for us that are not from the south, means "Hi How are you?")  Over time I learned that the correct response to this question is "Fi. Howayoo?"  Buzz gave us peaches from his fruit trees and kicked his chijuajuas when they would bark at me.  He chewed a wad of tobacco all the time and you could tell, loved every minute of it!  His wife, Catherine, was on oxygen and sat much of the time on the couch inside.  She always thanked me very sweetly for stopping by and often apologized that the house was a mess (even though it really wasn't).  Buzz passed away about 4 weeks ago and Catherine was transferred to a nearby nursing home, where she then died a few weeks later.  So I passed by their home - it was so quiet.

Home #2 - We used to pull up to this home to see Buzz's brother, Joe, busy working on something.  Sometimes he was riding his tractor, other times, he was tinkering with his old '57 chevy that he had sitting in the back.  One time I asked him if he was getting it ready to sell it and he said, "Nah, it doesn't run but it's fun to mess with."  He always said hi to Trent and called him "Little Man".  Every time we stopped, Joe would stop what he was working on to let us in, holding open the screen door and making sure his wife, Caroline, was doing ok.  He would go pat her on the arm or ask if she was cool enough - she always said she was "just fine" but you could tell that these two loved each other dearly.  He passed away 2 weeks ago, leaving behind his sweet wife Caroline.  Caroline is still living at home and this past Friday when I dropped off her meal and asked how she was doing, she said, "Oh, I'm getting by."  Their home is so quiet now - so, so quiet.

Home #3 - Miss Faye.  She reminds me of my great-grandma Barney (who I treasured when I went to Michigan to visit as a child).  She is sharp and independent and thoughtful.  She asks me every week how the weather is in California today and what plans do we have for school for the day.  This past Friday I pulled up and saw her sitting out front of her trailer, with her hands around her ankles, just taking in the view of the cornfields and the pond that her home looks out at.  I sat down next to her and told her how much I love driving up to her house because it is so peaceful and beautiful, tucked back in the woods.  She said, "It is.  It is.  I just love to sit out here and take it all in."  But there was a bit of melancholy in her words.  This is a woman who understands the beauty of the quiet and the joy of the noise.

Home #4 - Mr. Margy.  Chew stuffed in both cheeks so wide that he can't even speak and dark, tobacco colored drool rolled down his face but every time I came by (when he was awake...the man could Nap!) he would grin from ear to ear.  He was deaf and losing his eyesight but loved his two little dogs (who also enjoyed chewing tobacco!)  I drove past his house this past Friday also - he had passed away several months back and now it is quiet there too.

Home #5 - Buck Helms and the "sisters" Helms.  I always called them Mrs. and Mrs. Helms.  We miss stopping by their house.  Trent and Kate loved going into their home because they always left with a treat - a dollar bill, a plum from the plum tree in the yard, a garden flower, a stuffed animal.  Those women were so generous and loved life.  Buck was always out tinkering in his shed.  Trent came home several times with special bolts or wires that Buck had handed him, with his greased hands that spoke of years of hard work and dedication.  Mrs. and Mrs. Helms adored the kids and remembered their names from week to week.  Their home was always warm and welcoming - often with caretakers and extended family in and out.  The three of them would sit all day watching reruns of the "Price is Right" but loved the chance to chat when we came by.  The home is quiet now - one sister died first, then the other close behind.  Buck died in the last few months.  All that quiet after so much life (and noise).

And it makes me grateful for the noise.  I know I'll have the opportunity to enjoy the quiet that Miss Faye enjoys, listening to the wind blow through the cornstalks, but right now I have to cherish the meaning of the noise that having young children brings.  As I type this, Kate is making all kinds of joyful noise as she makes up a song for her ponies.... "Today, Today is a great day on the journey.  Today, Today is a great day on the journey."  Well said Kate!

Penny, I can't wait for the joyful noise that will come with your life in our home!!

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