Our electricity went out suddenly without warning recently. Always prepared, though literally pitch black, especially with heavy cloud cover; it didn’t take long to light a few candles.
Sitting in the warm glow and flicker of the dancing flame, it dawned on me precisely how quiet and still the world was, and it wasn’t long before it took me back to one of the quiet places from my childhood.
The only sound was the droning tick of my grandfather clock, recently repaired after sitting silent for more than 10 years. How welcome, especially in the tranquil darkness before me. The rhythm brought a calmness, serenity and peace that seldom get revisited in our rushed society.
There was no technology, no artificial light or noise … just the steady audible throb as the second hand moved in sync, and I caught a glimpse of the shimmer from the big brass pendulum steadily swinging to and fro in the dim light.
Immediately it thrust back to summers spent with my grandmother in Appalachia. She had a cuckoo clock from the Black Forest in Germany that Uncle Mack had brought back from his tour of duty.
Occasionally, the ever startling cuckoo sprung from his nesting place to chirp out the hour, interrupting the silence. One particular time I recall it was dusk, so the indoors were dark except for a small fire in the grate. Supper was over, and the men were outside doing chores. Maw had gone out to take care of some business that eternally awaited her attention, leaving me alone inside.
Many 6 year olds might feel uncomfortable in such a setting. An occasional crackle from the fireplace was the only interruption to the steady ticking of the clock. It impressed me, as I felt it was perhaps the heartbeat of God.
Awareness of my own breathing was palpable. Sitting in Maw’s rocking chair, which would be quickly abandoned as soon as her step was heard on the porch, I felt small but also content. Peace swept over me.
What does the universe whisper to our spirits when we turn off the racket and devices?
My childhood home was rarely quiet with two younger siblings and country songs on the radio. Being alone with my own thoughts and feelings was very comfortable — then and now.
“Be still and know that I am God,” the Psalmist tells us in chapter 46:10. Don’t wait for a power outage to seize time to listen and ponder — to think and problem solve — to seek and receive inspiration.
The significance becomes apparent when we allow ourselves to be still in the stillness. Answers to questions we haven’t completely formulated come easily during silence.
What is my purpose? Why am I here? For me, why am I still here?
Long ago, one’s purpose was clear. It was to make it through each day, to live and provide necessities of life such as preparing food and fuel for winter, raising children to work and contribute as well as to cherish and to love our neighbor.
Maw wrote these words in my sixth grade autograph book; “Always do good, and be good, and look to the Lord.”
When was the last time you indulged in simply sitting and allowing deep thoughts and feelings to surface? Meditation and prayer are natural when I grasp such glorious opportunities.
My place in this vast universe is acknowledged simultaneously as both significant and insignificant. While sometimes I feel I am only a teeny, weensy speck, other times my heart nearly bursts with the goodness of God in keen recognition of my blessings which are always more bounteous than I deserve.
As our time clock continues to tick right along, our time on earth becomes shorter. Have I prepared adequately for what lies ahead? Am I even ready to face tomorrow?
My answer is a resounding “Yes!” It is my hope and prayer that your response is the same. If not, your clock is still ticking, but time is running out.
Remember the grade school song, “My Grandfather’s Clock?” I find myself humming it often now that my own is working again. The beautiful chimes accompanied by the steady tick remind me that life is brief. It begins and it ends, but it also goes on.
The lyrics in Henry Clay Work’s original version create a great analogy for us and our lives though my life has been more like the old Timex watch commercials, “it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”
Either way, we each have a clock, and only the Master clockmaker knows the exact second it will stop. Until then, keep on ticking.
— A coal miner’s daughter born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, she currently lives in rural Athens. Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her husband, Bob, and their spoiled-beyond-belief dog, Molly.