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Living Room

By Belinda

There was a winter storm on the way and on the morning radio show there was a segment on safe winter driving.

A driving instructor mentioned that he teaches his students to always maintain space between themselves and the cars around them. He called this, “Living Room."

That Living Room was the space between safety and catastrophe; a buffer zone.

We live in a world that pressures us to use every minute, cram activity into every space. Fill every void in conversation with words. We need a buffer zone; a Living Room.

One day, Susan was over at my place and we just sat quietly side by side in wing backed arm chairs. Usually we have no end of things to talk about, but on this occasion a peaceful silence descended like snow on a winter's night. I must have worried a bit that I was boring her out of her mind, because she later wrote this:

You don't have to feel any pressure at all to fill in those quiet spots. Do you know what it's like to spend a few weeks every year in a Mennonite house with a houseful of introverts? (Grandpa Cook and Aunt Edith were both majorly quiet and introspective people and Grandma was an invalid). No television, no radio, not even a newspaper! (Only the weekly, "Family Herald" -- the one with the children's story on the back!)

I loved that quiet... Grandpa sitting in "his" chair tilted way back with his feet up on the woodbox, quietly puffing away on his pipe and Aunt Edith puttering in the kitchen, neither of them wasting a single word on each other or me! And Aunt Edith and I walking that mile and a quarter down that gently undulating gravel road to St. James Lutheran on a summer Sunday morning, with barely a word between us all the way... Those were some of the most happy and peaceful times of my whole life, a time when I felt some kind of comfort in the silence.. I often feel like that at your house when it's quiet. Especially when I can hear the clock ticking...

These people knew how to maintain Living Room.

Anyone want to join me in slowing down; building in a buffer zone; going counter culture; learning to relax into silence?


Susan said…
I'd love to. Can you tell my family?

Wait a minute. That's what Thursday nights are for. And 4:00 a.m. :)
Brenda said…
Susan,what a walk down memory lane that was! Sis, you need to write a book and I'll buy a million copies!

Belinda, I'm with you. The highs are great but I'm looking forward to the low time again when there is so much space.
Brenda said…
Heard a sermon in Beaverton a couple of weeks ago that encouraged us to get alone in nature and ask God if there's anything He wants to say to us....and wait long enough to hear His answer...and then ask Him what He wants you to do about it. I was blown away by what He said to me. Now I do it every day....and will for the rest of my days on earth!
Belinda said…
Brenda...asking God if he has anything to say to me? What a novel idea! :) How bad is that?

I'm so glad Susan's words stirred some precious memories. I have more from the same source...I will ask her if I can post them--she SHOULD write a book.
Anonymous said…
The chopper saw has been going off and on all day. Oh the quiet after it is turned off. I was going to cut the lawn, but I think I will simply enjoy "the quiet".
Belinda said…
Anonymous, that sounds like a great idea. Unless it's our lawn you were planning to cut! ha ha!
Janet Sketchley said…
Belinda, I'm getting nervous. Yours is the second blog to nudge me about quietness.

I do love the quiet times, and I guess I need to get serious about intentionally adding living room space into my day.

For this moment I'm settling for pausing to listen to our clock tick. I wonder if mini-living-room moments through the day would be a good thing too.

Brenda, stopping to ask God if He wants to say something to us... I used to do that and lost the habit. Time to rebuild it.

Susan, thanks for that lovely vicarious visit to quiet!
Belinda said…
Janet, my clock is ticking loudly right now. What a lovely, peaceful sound it is; never hurried along faster by urgent pressures; simply doing what it was made for consistently and faithfully. I want to be a clock! :)
Anonymous said…
I often turn off the radio and I rarely watch television. I've learned to love the quiet. I do love visiting with family and friends. After the busyness of a family gathering, I'm ready for quiet.
Belinda said…
Cari! A fellow introvert. Yes, quiet is delicious indeed and I too, can happily live without television, but not without books.
When I was young my brother and I would turn on the car radio as we waited for my parents to pack and load the car. They'd get in and seconds later turn off the radio. It annoyed me as a child, I couldn't imagine why they wouldn't want to listen to something! Now, I prefer to ride without listening to 'that racket' and listen to silence instead. How late smart!

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