Soul Snack 65/13 ... Sometimes Silence#
The old man sat rocking in his chair on the porch. His eyes were red from sobbing. His neighbours gave the house a wide berth. He was one of those unpredictable types. This elderly gent had a childish kind of laugh that belied his years and disarmed those around him. But he did not laugh much. Mostly this tired neighbour was the tired and cranky kind who had problems with the world that he was too willing to share. His brow descended into a near permanent scowl with little tolerance of people. Graceless was a more apt description.
Most had heard the news, old crusty's son had died. It is said to be a curse to outlive your children and the old man was living proof. Eyes stared into the distance and focused on nothing but his formless grief, broken only by the occasional sob. He sat there for hours, day after day, soaking up the sun; oblivious to the quickly averted gazes of passers-by.
Amelia lived next door. She had known both moods of the man; his anger at the ivy that had grown from her
side of the fence and choked the living daylights out of his precious garden. Amelia was sorry that her ivy had done the damage but also afraid to approach him. In the end she had poisoned the ivy on her side of the fence, but sadly it still kept growing and choking on his side. She had also known his laughter. He laughed at Christmas time when his son and his grandchildren visited. Amelia knew there would be no more laughter at Christmas.
Her sombre thoughts had been a moment's distraction. It was too late to stop her little son, Aaron, as he
rounded the dividing fence and made a bee-line towards the old man’s porch. What to do? Call him back?
The words would not come. She watched in silence. A protective mother’s instinct screamed, do something – the man is unstable – Aaron is so little!
Screaming thoughts met silent lips. She watched and waited.
Aaron ran up to the porch and climbed up onto the old man’s knee. Old crusty began to cry again, but this time it was not a subdued sob. It was the kind of cry that comes from the deepest place of pain. His tears caught the sunlight and Amelia began to cry too – partly with the fear of motherly instinct; partly with the shame of the knowledge that a five year old had done what every neighbourhood adult had dared not do.
After what seemed an eternity, she saw the old man say something to Aaron, then lift him off his knee and
shuffle back inside. The porch was empty for the first time in untold weeks.
Wiping her tears away, she gathered the little boy up into her arms the moment he rounded the fence.
“What did you say to him?” she asked.
“Nothing”, said the little boy.
“And what did he say to you?” asked Amelia.
“He just said ‘thank you’,” replied Aaron .
there is a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak (Eccl 3:7)
Sometimes when you have no answer – it is best left at that. Words can be healing – but they can also be the
Sometimes silence holds just the right number of words.
Today's Soul Snippet:
“Learn in confession to be honest with God. Do not give fair names to foul sins; call them what you will, they will smell no sweeter.” – Spurgeon
#Today's SoulSnack is reproduced with kind permission from the author Dr Stuart Quarmby ~ Principal of Wollondilly Anglican College