The Porch at Spring Hill

Contemplative Conversations

Friday, December 30, 2005

Backyard Symphony

A few weeks ago Lynn and I were in the process of readying our new home for move-in. We were cleaning, painting, etc. At one point I went out on the back porch for a few minutes to enjoy the quiet and stillness of the unusually warm evening.

After living in a very noisy apartment complex for the past couple of months I eagerly closed my eyes and just listened...wrapping myself in a whole new set of sounds. The first thing I noticed was the rustling of the few leaves that remained on the trees in the late evening breeze. I think wind is a beautiful sound. It is gently relaxing, yet powerful. I then noticed the sounds of tree frogs; an unusual sound for December...but it was nice to hear the sounds of life all around me. A couple of kids playing off in the distance made me think of the care-free days of my own childhood - playing flashlight tag just after sundown. And then there was another sound.

Off in the distance I heard a sound similar to the one that caused me such distress in our apartment. Interstate 20. I could still here it...about a mile away. For just a moment I was frustrated. The unceasing roar of traffic is an incredibly annoying sound to me...violently invading my need for stillness. But very quickly God reminded me how important this sound is in the symphony of my backyard.

Here I was alone on the back porch, thinking of nobody but myself. But just a mile away was a constant stream of hundreds of people scurrying back and forth between Augusta, GA and Columbia, SC. Who was in those cars? Had one of them just lost their job and was driving home wondering how he would tell his family? Maybe one of the drivers was a woman frantically trying to get away from an abusive home. I'm sure there was a very successful businessman or two in his luxury sports car feeling like he had all he needed in life; yet was in the process of losing his soul. Thousands of stories in thousands of cars a mile away from my quiet backyard.

Why is this an important sound in my backyard symphony? Because I need both solitude and connection. I need solitude to hear the voice of God and nurture intimacy with him. But I also need to remember that though I am not OF this world, I am in it and I am in it for the purpose of bringing light into darkness and offering water where there is drought. It's easy for Christians to disconnect ourselves from the world around us and hide ourselves away from the pain found therein. But to do so is to abandon the very heart of Christ who left his own home, dressed in rags, and surrounded himself with the cacophonous brutality of an evil world...for the purpose of bringing light, hope, refreshing, and redemption.

As I spend time on the porch - and in the distance hear the roar of traffic - I'll be reminded of my role as a disciple of Christ in the midst of thirsty people scurrying around in darkness.


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