A few weeks ago, my 38 year old neighbor died unexpectedly. I didn’t know him well, but we have literally crossed paths. However, even in those seemingly insignificant encounters, his life impacted mine.
While I didn’t know much about the intimate parts of his story, I was privy to some public ones. From my back porch, I gaze upon his backyard adjacent to mine as well as the yards of his sibling and parents. Their houses and big open green space form a “corner” at the end of the street. Sounds of life coming from that direction abound in the summer.
Parties, fireworks, and the sounds of music and people chatting into the wee hours of the morning characterize warm summer evenings. They live life loudly. And people around here know it. Though I didn’t always appreciate the noise, it somehow became a familiar soundtrack to our family’s life. There is something comforting about the familiar.
But the weekend of his funeral, the soundtrack came to a holy pause. And I noticed. No loud sounds. Not even a few random voices carrying over from across the yard. I understood the sound of silence. It speaks volumes at times because it communicates that something changed. In this moment, it was the sound of grief.
We often take for granted the connections we have with each other. What we don’t realize is the way God speaks into the world through the sounds, tastes, smells, and touches of each other’s lives. We are reminded who created all of us and that we belong to each other because of it.
In these recent weeks, I sit in the sound of silence with them. Recognizing I can’t fix the pain or erase the reality that we travel lightly here on Earth. But I know that God is in it too. “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” Romans 8:26. Tonight, I cling to that promise.
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