The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner


Noise is a big part of community. It takes some getting used to.

First there is the noise of the city. Sirens, trains, car horns, traffic, bus brakes, garbage trucks banging dumpsters around and the occasional gun shots or fights become like elevator music. When I first moved here the sirens would wake me up, but after a year when visitors would mention them I would realize I didn’t hear the ambulances at all.

Inside there are children playing, babies crying, doors opening and closing, someone whistling in the hallway. When our kids are small we get to where we can distinguish one child’s cry from another. “Oh, that’s Matthew, I wonder if Laura knows he’s up from his nap.”

There are some who expect their neighbors to be quiet. I was like that, until I had an autistic child. Jude was born screaming and hasn’t really stopped yet. My neighbors know the difference between Jude being mad and Jude melting down, then later, when Jude became very ill, what it sounds like when Jude is in pain.

I would apologize to my upstairs and downstairs neighbors, who told me they would stop and pray when they heard him wailing. I know families with autistic kids who have been evicted from their apartments for less. Gratitude doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel when I remember that.

On vacation or visiting relatives I leave the TV on because the quiet is deafening. The silence sucks the life right out of a person. I am always so grateful to come home to chatter, slamming doors, and dishes clanking in the kitchen, my friend’s annoying seventies music wafting down the hallway. It’s like the smell of a home-cooked meal. I never want to take this noise and mess and chaos for granted. As far as I am concerned peace and quiet are overrated, and I am being serious when I say that I hope heaven is a very noisy place.


Rebecca Hill
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