I am having a conversation with God.
It’s one of those one-way conversations, with me talking talking talking.
I am also reading a book. A chapter about silence.
I have stolen a few minutes at the end of the work day to indulge in this little luxury of reading beneath the colossal oak tree in my back yard. Sometimes, when I sit in the yard beneath this tree, I worry a mammoth branch might fall on my head and end it all. But today is unusually calm. No crazy Nebraska winds, sneaking in beneath the branches and then pressing them down again, toward the earth. I’m probably paranoid because of the two times a tree fell our old house, causing quite a spectacle and making our insurance agent reconsider the benefits of having us as clients.
“You’ve been tainted by that other tree in that other house. This is not that house. Or that tree.” H tells me when I express my concern. “A branch will not fall on your head,” he says. I believe him. And besides, I can always sit somewhere else.
This is my favorite summertime spot at our home. Each year, when the never-ending snow and ice and freezing cold give way to tiny green shoots of grass, bravely pressing through the earth to announce the truth that yes, the earth is still orbiting the sun and all is not lost, I can barely wait for H to dust off the yard furniture and set it up beneath this tree.
It is peaceful out here. Serene. There are songbirds, and a lost black ant usually finds its way across my ankle, and I can hear the lifeguard’s whistle from the neighborhood pool around the corner. Sometimes, when Santana joins me out beneath the tree, a squirrel chatters at us both from overhead. From time to time, the squirrel, disgusted by the prospect of sharing this sacred ground, throws acorns at us. Once, that squirrel scored a bullseye by landing an acorn right down the front of my shirt where it lodged in my bra and I dug it out and threw it back. I missed.
Today, beneath the tree, I am reading. And talking nonstop to God because somewhere in the neighborhood, someone has turned up the bass on their music and the driving rhythm has taken up residence on my right eardrum. It is not paying rent. It is not inviting me to dance. It is an intrusion.
Ba-bommm, 2, 3, 4; ba-bommm, 2, 3, 4; ba-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bommm, 2, 3, 4.
I’ve heard this music before. Usually at one- or two o’clock in the morning as I turn over in bed from my right side to my left side. I assume it’s someone dropping off their date, and I remember how it was when H and were dating and how his oversized Chevy Blazer, with the beer tap for a gear shift, must have driven my parents to do their own talking talking talking to God. In the middle of the night, when the beat rattles the glass in the windows, I smile as I roll over and I think, “Glad that’s not me.” In the middle of the night, the sound is over in five minutes or less.
Today, in the back yard, beneath the oak tree, with Santana at my feet, the sound just keeps on going.
I am irritated. And my one-way conversation with God sounds like this:
Seriously? They are seriously going to keep playing that music? Don’t they know this is a neighborhood? Don’t they care they are ruining their hearing? Don’t they care that not everyone wants to listen to their music right now?
I feel selfish. And old. So then,
I can ignore it. Surely I can just ignore it, 2, 3, 4. Help me ignore it, God. What a nuisance!
I feel desperate. And still selfish. So then,
Make it stop, God! Make it stop!
I wonder if I think I am praying to Genie God. So then,
Why am I letting this bother me so much? And why am I trying to control it? Why is it so important for me to be in control of this? To have things my way? How am I supposed to be praying about this, God?
And the music stops. Abruptly. Just like that. Right in the middle of a bommm. I don’t dare look up from the chapter on silence. I sit very still. I wait for the next song to start.
Just the sound of birds and the steady hum of our neighbor’s central air conditioning unit.
I have no conclusions to offer. No assumptions to share. No, if this, then this, formulas to pass along. Just the telling of a story as it unfolds, because really, isn’t that the journey, after all?