So you’re now in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee, living on a mountain, with a front porch on your house that faces the mountains. It’s very serene and peaceful. In Minneapolis, you have lived for thirty years in a loud, urban setting in a house set next to the interstate. What has the adjustment been like?
Well, it is taking some adjustment. It is funny. The Lord prepared me for it in a way when I came home in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. Noël and I got out of the car on a Saturday, and we stopped and said, “Something is wrong.”
What was wrong was that Interstate 94 and I-35W, which intersect in front of our house, had been shut down to build the bridge over Chicago Avenue. There was not a single car on these fifteen lanes of freeway, and the whole neighborhood sounded starkly silent. I stood there saying, “This is really weird. I haven’t heard this kind of silence for a long time.” And that is the way it is here all the time.
You sit on the front porch and there is nothing but this cow about a mile away, it seems. I don’t know what he is doing. Then there are the birds that you can hear. There are no cars anywhere. It is, I think, an adjustment of soul by which you get accustomed to the sounds of nature as opposed to the sounds of man. It remains yet to be seen what effect this is going to have on my soul.
I have no desire to spend the last ten years of my life sitting on a front porch staring at God’s beauty, because the world is fallen and I think God is going to give me about a billion years sitting on a front porch, staring at his beauty. His call on me now is to get retooled in a sweet place of peace and quiet as I write, and fit me to throw my life back into the fray, where most people in the world live with all of their sorrows. So I am thankful for this year — really, really thankful. Maybe I can tune back in with you in months ahead and say, “Here is the effect which that kind of silence has had.”
I can give you one funny effect. I can hear my wife breathing now, which can be good. It can be bad, because I am used to having just a nice hum of the freeway all night long as a kind of white sound, but here there is no white sound at all. So every little move in the bed and every breath I am alert to. So we will see how that shakes out.