Recently, on a summer afternoon in July, I lay on the long, cushioned window seat in our family room and fell asleep. I didn’t intend to nap. I’d been sitting there reading and looking out over my lilac bushes and down the road. But at some point, the warmth of the day and the tiredness from a busy week dropped over me, and I closed my eyes.
When I awoke, I didn’t feel inclined to move. I stayed nestled against the throw pillows and watched the white clouds glide by. The breeze made the leaves whisper.
It was so quiet.
The birds, chatty first thing in the morning, seemed to be elsewhere. Or were they napping too? In the distance, the caw of a crow but nothing more.
I recognized this quiet. Just as there are recognizable voices, there are certain kinds of familiar quietude. The voice of a summer afternoon is draped in a light wind and the sound of my own breath traveling the same low frequency. Even the roar of lawnmowers far away are couched in this softness.
I first heard this voice during the summers of my childhood. Back then, the sound included the playback announcers of the Cleveland Indians baseball game my daddy would be watching on television. Somewhere between the crack of a bat and the notes of the stadium organ I’d fall asleep. Someone, most likely my oldest brother, would, at Daddy’s suggestion, pick me up and put me on the bed to finish my nap in the room I shared with my sisters. When I woke up, I felt this same disinclination to move. I’d gaze at the dust motes floating through the shaft of sunlight beaming through the curtains. I’d listen. Maybe the ball game was still on, but mainly I was listening to the quiet. It fascinated me.
This quiet, then and now, makes me feel like I’m cupped in the palm of a hand. But who is holding me? Is someone beyond the summer speaking in this silence? I’m not sure it matters—not as long as I keep listening.
I could easily talk about this being a moment of deep meditation, of hoping to communicate with God, of being grateful for the sky and trees and coneflowers, laid out like a banquet before me outside my window.
But I’ll be honest. In this quiet I don’t think about anything. I lie and rest in the nothingness.
I will say now how grateful I am that as a child I was able to be still enough to hear this voice. I’m even more grateful I recognize it now as what I’d heard before, and can write about it here.
When summer speaks, there is nothing more than its quiet, nothing deeper—just the moment, the now. It is enough to know it, to cup it in my hand, even as I myself am being held. It is enough, this quiet. It is enough.
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