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?