The most carefree days of my boyhood were spent in the Brim Hollow, the home of my maternal grandparents, Will Herod and Lena Brim. Throughout the years, the memories of sights and sounds have often taken me back there.
Springtime reminds me of cool nights when I lay, still as a mouse, deep in the snugness of a feather bed; and listened to mice racing inside the walls of my room and scampering across the attic floor.
The spring also reminds me of how, as darkness descended upon the hollow each evening, a tree frog began his nightly serenade in a lazy tree which leaned precariously toward the back porch. At the foot of that tree, among oddly shaped rocks grew “Touch-me-nots” and “Four o’clocks,” fragile, tiny flowers which reappeared each year.
And I recall the haunting sound of my grandfather calling down the goats to “salt ‘em” on the big, flat rocks that lay smooth and weather-beaten in front of the chicken house.
But these days I return to the Brim Hollow from time to time for a different reason. I go there to enjoy the silence. There is a place within the confines of the hollow which is free of road noise. The sound of speeding cars and trucks, and the moan of tractor-trailer trucks dies completely away. All is silent and still. I find myself in a setting which is deliciously tranquil.
Oh, the setting is not completely free of sound. I like to call it the silence of nature. This time of year a breeze might whisper through the cedars, and birds sing and chirp of their return. And a murmuring stream, fed by wet-weather springs which seep from earthen banks and rocky bluffs, flows nearby. But all in all, it is quiet there.
I often consider how our lives are impacted by all the “road noise” of life. The world has become a noisy place. And we have all these “voices” clambering for our attention. We have social voices, and family voices, and political voices, and religious voices, and media voices, and work voices, and advertising voices. Sometimes all the “noise” becomes a bit overwhelming.
I sometimes want to shout (I think it was one of the Three Stooges, who in the midst of a bunch of hubbub said it.) “Shut up. I can’t hear myself think!”
The ancient writings tell of how the great prophet, Elijah, had just come off one of the greatest spiritual victories of Old Testament times. And consistent with mankind’s inconsistency, a short time later, he found himself depressed, hiding in a cave, and wishing he could die. And in the middle of his pity party he was instructed to go out of the cave and stand before the Lord.
“And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
It is difficult to hear “still small voices” in a world filled with “road noise.” Sometimes the most important voices are the ones which whisper — the unspoken words of people we love, the voice of conscience, the voice of that “little person” who lives inside us, voices which whisper of eternity.
The story goes of an old gentlemen who was relaxing as he sat in a rocking chair on the front porch of a general store some years ago. It was on a spring day when the countryside was filled with much coming and going — a busy time. A stranger approached the old man and asked. “What’s going on?”
“Well, son,” the old man replied, “I’m practicing a lost art.”
“And what might that be?’ the strange asked.
“I’m ‘just ’a sittin,’ the old man said, with a smile.
May I suggest you find a quiet place, and take a few moments to let (in the words of C.S. Lewis) “that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. Stand back from all your natural fussings and frettings (road noise); and come in out of the wind.”
Hartsville resident Jack McCall is a writer, humorist and motivational speaker.