Sometimes to go

"Walking in Yosemite" by Rennett Stowe; Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Walking in Yosemite” by Rennett Stowe; Licensed under CCA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Oh, how one wants sometimes to go from such giftlessly high-flown, cheerless human wordiness into the seeming silence of nature, into the arduous soundlessness of long, persistent labor, into the wordlessness of deep sleep, of true music, and of a quiet, heartfelt touch grown mute from fullness of soul!”
Boris Pasternak

Probably nobody I know is more fond of a good conversation than I am.  I love reading, writing and anything to do with words.  But there are times — especially when I’m in a noisy, crowded place, or worse, when the inane chatter of a television is blaring nearby and I’m powerless to stop it — when I just want to flee into the sanctity of silence.

The images Pasternak brings together in this quote evoke, in different ways, that feeling of retreat from empty clatter.  Nature’s calm, the satisfaction of manual labor, the balm of sound sleep, lovely music and silent companionship: these are the places of respite from the peculiar stresses of spending too much time amid the “progress” of civilization.

During the long weeks of living in hospital settings over the past year, how we would long for the quiet cocoon of our home!  What a solace it can be, to escape to a secluded natural spot away from traffic, urban stress and electronic stimulation.  During the grinding heat of the summer (or the chill of winter, for those south of the equator) I wish you many moments of escape to refresh and renew your spirit.

One year ago today:

Clarity from stillness




  1. singleseatfighterpilot

    Also, it can be “Merlin’s Schoolhouse” (from “Camelot”).

    • 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. HarryS

    Thank you Lord for this day and for all that is in it.
    My times are in your hand.
    My soul rests with you, my Anamchara.

    My brother, my cousin OC and I had a wonderful visit yesterday even though we were distressed and missed our uncle Robert being with us. I finally got in touch with him by phone late yesterday afternoon and he quickly confessed that he just forgot. We certainly can forgive anyone for forgetting anything especially I who have dis-remembered on more occasions than I care to remember.
    We had lunch at the Red Rooster, a local feeding trough for an eclectic gathering of plain old good folks and just like always I thoroughly enjoyed a helping of old-fashioned home cooking.
    We also enjoyed a sample of that in our sharing of past, present and future with each other.

    Yesterday and online friend passed forth a powerful reflection which poses the exclamatory declaration; “For God’s Sake Pray for Him”. 🙂 🙂

    This totally new concept to me of God’s unlimited compassion and inordinate love continues to touch me very deeply.

    • Harry, I’m so happy you and OC were able to be together for such a nice time! (I’m afraid I too tend to forget things; glad you were not too hard on Uncle Robert.) Thanks for the link to the interesting piece about sharing in the sorrow God feels. I have thought many times since becoming a parent that I have just a tiny bit more understanding of how amazingly difficult it is to love as God loves, freely and without coercion or demands that the love be returned. It’s somehow easier for many of us to imagine God’s wrath than his sorrow, but at some point I hope we come to dread the latter as much as (or more than) the former.

  3. raynard

    Julia you know how many people in my family other others( from cities like NYC, Philadelphia, and Batimore to name a few) complain about places that are” too quiet?. Even in Iraq at the beginning of the war, in the desert at night is” really really dark and quiet.. Going to Shady Maple in Lancaster, is a nice quiet ride for us.I stop doing headphones years ago. Besides it was only to study music. I have ear buds with my ipod and dont use them. Getting ready for my church picnic tomorrow and bakeoff. Going for the simple. Atlantic Beach pie is like a key lime pie with a ritz cracker crust. If I bake that, it cant be in te contest. So plan be is another trifle I found with chocolate. be blessed

    • Raynard, I guess I hang around with nerdy types but I don’t remember hearing anyone over 20 complain about too much quiet! I suppose that living in a noisy place would cause you to shut out some of it and not really hear it – then too much quiet might feel strange. I think I might have been fearful of the quiet in Iraq, wondering what they were doing on the other side of all that silence. Good luck with your Atlantic Beach pie! And have a great weekend.

  4. Conrad Sloat

    Ah, enough said.

    Sent from my iPad


    • 🙂 Thank you!

  5. MaryAnn

    Aw! Yosemite!!! Brings to mind MANY years of joy, peace, happiness and learning from the great Christian leaders at Yosemite Family Encampment! Most of my leisure time was spent IN the Merced River, although I truly appreciated the quiet stillness of walking among the giant trees, by the river & near the waterfalls! Very likely, my favorite place on Earth!
    Praising God for His Handiwork!

    • Mary Ann, we have heard so many wonderful things about those gatherings, though we never did get to one of them. In fact we’ve only been to Yosemite once, and it was so crowded that we wished we could go there again some time when there were fewer people. But even then there were places of relative solitude. We also loved King’s Canyon and Sequoia. California is a showplace of the splendor of creation.

  6. bobmielke

    This is why I love my new home so much already. It’s deadly quiet, beautifully quiet, thankfully quiet. The only sound I hear I create, munching rice chips whose serving size is 36 chips.

    • Bob, Jeff and I make a lot of noise munching tortilla chips! Do you at least have the sound of crickets in the evening if you open your windows? Whenever we spend the night somewhere that it’s really quiet, I am always surprised at how soundly I sleep. I’m glad you have found a place that’s unspoiled by noise.

      • bobmielke

        We have central air so the windows are never open. I love the quiet and sleep very soundly.

        • You are lucky!

  7. Julia, I hear you.
    In 2009, I self-published a book on some poetry that I had written, with a following reflection on each entry. It’s title is “A View From The Quiet Corner.” Your post prompted me to read one of the poems. “A Peace I’ve Known,” is its title. It discusses my successful relief from stress, through God’s natural remedy, found at the seashore, where we once had a modest condo, in Fla.
    I did me good to return to it.
    Thanks for the motivation,

    • Alan, I find peace in lots of different natural settings, but none is more therapeutic for me than the seashore. Truly a balm for the spirit. I’m happy you have happy memories from there to enjoy, and I hope you will be able to make some more of them in the future. I’ve been wanting to get back to Captiva Island ever since we went there 18 months ago. Hope you have a nice weekend!

  8. For me, spending time in nature is the best getaway. Over the years, I’m seeing that I need to make more of an effort to leave town and get refreshed. Even if for a day, my spirit is always lifted.

    • Jenelle, so often when I make the time for something like that, I tell myself, “I’m going to do this more often!” Then life intervenes and I get distracted. But I do agree with you, it is worth prioritizing. The older I get, the more I seem to need it!

  9. Sheila

    Julia, this evening I rolled Walter’s cage outside for him to enjoy more of a natural environment and did he ever add his two cents! I’m thinking that may be the opposite of your blog but Walter would say, “Now Juia, it was a good thing for me to add my joyous voice, and catch a breath of fresh (salty) air!”
    Hoping for a really good weekend for y’all!

    • Sheila, Walter counts as “nature sounds” so any singing he did would be a perfect escape from the talking heads on TV, radio and (increasingly) annoying internet pop-up commercials! I love thinking of you rolling Walter’s cage outside so he can enjoy the seashore too. If I was there I would teach him to say “Just a few more minutes, please!!” 😀 Thanks for your good wishes, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend too.

      • Oh,how he would love you chatting him up! Maybe some “Southern French”? Haha 🙂

        • Just remind me not to start singing “Alouette” around him…he might NOT be amused!

  10. Michael

    Boris Pasternak? Sounds familiar. Hmnnn. Oh yes famous Russian writer.
    We live next to the airport so it is nice to get down to our beach cabin away from the din.
    One late summer treat we have here is fresh black berries – sugared over vanilla ice cream.

    Late summer night
    blackberries beckon me
    get vanilla ice now

    Ya’ll have blackberries down there?

    • Blackberry bushes
      grow thick in the South. The snakes
      don’t scare us away

      Not even when the blackberry bushes are located at the edge of a small lake and the snakes are vicious cottonmouths (or water moccasins, as we call them in the South). My mother used to get nervous when we would go back to the lake behind our house to pick berries. If I knew how aggressive cottonmouths are, I might not have braved it, but those berries were so delicious to pick and eat, we couldn’t resist.

      Having grown up not far from the flight path from one of the runways at ATL (there was supposedly the wreckage of a plane somewhere near the aforementioned lake, though I never saw it; Eric, could you elaborate?) I can totally identify with airport noise. But as a kid, I hardly noticed it. In fact, the only time I would be aware of it is when overnight guests would ask us, “How do you sleep with those planes flying overhead?” 😀

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        Our teen years were spent at a home only two miles laterally displaced from the final approach path to Runway 26, in Atlanta (Later to be named 26 Left). The daring tours we’d take visitors on – daring because we had to cross Camp Creek on a two-cable system, sliding our feet on the lower cable, crossways (there was no Camp Creek Parkway, then) – had as a destination “The Airplane Crash”. (Forgive the William Fauklner-like sentence.) The facts? Circa 1961, a Navy S-2 Submarine Tracker was unable to get into the Naval Air Station (also known as Dobbins AFB) due to weather. In desperation, they tried to land at Atlanta Municipal Airport (now Hartsfield-Jackson – soon-to-add-Robin-Williams-International Airport). They crashed about 3 or 4 miles short of the runway. That is about all I know for sure. (I think Al may still have an intake manifold I brought home from one of its two radial, riciprocating engines.)

        • Eric, thanks for supplying those details. Believe it or not, I had actually wondered whether this legendary crash site might have actually been the remains of a crash that had happened twenty years earlier – the Eastern DC-3 crash that nearly killed Rickenbacker. I hope everyone realizes you are joking about Robin Williams.

  11. Michael

    Aggressive cottonmouths? Oh I can’t wait. We have few snakes in Western Wash. but load of rattlers on the East side of the mountains. And on our last visit to Atlanta they found a cute little scorpion in the kitchen. I assume those are non- poisonous. Oh my son is starting his lawn business so if you know of anyone in the Canton area- let me know.

    • Well Michael if they were really as aggressive as they say, we would have been bitten several times over! Seriously, that may be a bit of a legend to scare kids, though I do think they are worse than rattlesnakes or copperheads. None of them are fun. I don’t know if scorpions are poisonous but they do have a nasty sting, I’m told. It couldn’t be worse than the yellow jacket stings I got when one got into my gardening glove last night. 😦 One thing I loved about Hawaii was no poisonous snakes or spiders, though those centipedes could be painful and scary. One got in the elementary school library where I was working and you never saw kids clear a space so quickly! I don’t know anyone in Canton but if I hear of anyone moving that way I’ll let them know.

  12. Michael

    Yellow jackets are quite painful and I know this from personal experience. I once came across a ground nest and got several little stings. I remember hearing about the centipedes in Hawaii but can’t recall seeing any. I did get bit by a Picasso Trigger fish protecting her nest at Hanuama bay while snorkeling and that was quite exciting. In eastern Washington I saw a friend kill a baby rattlesnake in his driveway- this with a shovel. The little ones have as much venom as the big ones and my friend had two little girls at the time.
    I wanted to ask you and Alan about self publishing with Amazon. Do you have some experience with them?

    • Michael, my little yellow jacket stings are turning into a big pain. My hand is swollen and still sore. I didn’t realize the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a would bite people. Probably it’s revenge for giving them a name like that! I was out raking pine straw with my mother once when I picked up a big armful of straw (to take and put under the azaleas) and uncovered a copperhead. My mother grabbed the hoe and chopped that thing into a bunch of pieces. Needless to say, we didn’t do any more raking around there that day. I have never done any self-publishing but it’s becoming more and more accepted by the “mainstream” literary establishment. I have heard the Amazon publishing system summarized and it sounds fairly appealing but I would want to find someone who is an expert (preferably with experience) before I tried it. As background you might enjoy reading The Long Tail which gives a good explanation of the advantages of e-publishing. It was written in 2008 and I think the trends it describes are even more true now.

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        In 2012, I received 54 Yellow Jacket stings, within the space of 30 seconds (Sherry counted them). As many were on my face and neck, it took and Epi-Pen to save my life (administered within two minutes.) As you can imagine, I “never leave home without it!”

        • My hand is still swollen and this is the third time I’ve had a huge local reaction to a yellow jacket sting. I read that makes me predisposed to a systemic reaction. Perhaps I should get an Epi-Pen. I’m glad you had one! I agree that you should “never leave home without it!”

  13. Michael

    It is the state fish of Hawaii “Humhumunukunukun apua’a. ” Very beautiful but can be aggressive if you get close to the nest.

  14. I wish you the same, Julia.

    • Thank you Alys! ❤

  15. Michael

    I have lost the excerpt about the self publishing -book. Did you happen to make it to the Hawaiian book fair when you were there. IN front of City Hall if I remember right. President Obama’s half sister was there -Maya Soetoro- Ng who published her children’s work- “Ladder to the Moon.” It was a nice festival and I hope to go back next May.
    My friend in Aiaea said the second storm bypassed them.
    I don’t have Internet down at the beach so have been offline for a time.

    • Michael, I don’t remember any book fairs in Hawaii, which is really strange considering I went to library school there! Maybe they didn’t have it way back then. We are going to make a quick trip to see our Atlanta family next weekend, and I hope to spend at least a short time at the Decatur Book Festival while we’re there. Hope you are having a fun time at the beach. Thanks for checking in!

  16. Michael

    Also Roseanne Barr was there and she wrote something about her life on the Big Island where she has a Macadamia nut farm. Did you ever try and break a Macadamia nut shell?
    Takes about 400 pounds of pressure.
    I was reading somewhere that a good retirement job for boomers is to be a library assistant. I really like researching and looking stuff up so I may look into that. Sounds like you would have to go to school though.
    I got a hold of the Soetoro book, “Ladder to the Moon.” When she was a child her mom gave her a postcard of the Georgia O’Keefe painting of the same title. Anyway interesting children’s book that I am not sure about. When my wife read it she said it would give a kid nightmares and not something she would have read to her boys. Anyway she was trying to get across the point that her mom- Anne Dunham- loved to tell stories and had a certain empathy for people, all kinds of people, nations and other countries and cultures.
    Have fun in Atlanta. Hope to get down there next Christmas- God willing.

    • Michael, maybe that’s why Macadamia nuts are so expensive. But they are SO delicious they are worth it! I’ll have to check out the Soetoro book, it sounds intriguing. Many children’s books written by well-known (“celebrity”) authors are frankly not very good. They get published because there is an automatic market for it. But hers may be an exception, as some are. I can see where being a library assistant is a great job for people in our age group. I don’t think it takes a lot of training to be a library assistant in most counties, especially if you already have some sort of degree and are willing to start at a lower-paid position. You will need to be willing to work nights and weekends for most jobs, though. Many library assistants who already have their B.A. or B.S. go to graduate school while working and eventually become librarians. One of my former assistants is now a librarian and I’m so pleased because I always thought she would be great at the profession. Library school was much harder than I expected but I loved every minute. If you go to Atlanta at Christmas time you will have to ride the PINK PIG with your granddaughter — right, Sheila? 😀

  17. Michael

    Automatic market because of celebrity status? Where Is the Pink Pig again?

    • Yes, there are many people who will buy a book simply because it is written by Madonna (or her ghostwriter), Sarah Ferguson (or her ghostwriter) or any number of notable people (or their ghostwriters) including the President’s sister. I haven’t read her book so I have no idea what it’s like, but many of these celebrity books would never otherwise be published. This is why the books are marketed by their author’s identity rather than the excellence of the books’ content. In fact, Stephen King actually published under a pseudonym at one point, supposedly to see if people were buying his books because they were good and not just because his name was on the cover. Many celebrities gravitate to the field of children’s literature because they mistakenly think of it as a “quick and easy” way to write a book, but in reality (in my opinion) producing good children’s literature is more difficult even than writing good adult’s literature. It’s not for nothing that J. K. Rowling is the wealthiest woman in Great Britain. You won’t see any celebrity coming up with a Harry Potter series. Rowling’s talent for storytelling disproved the nearly universal opinion that today’s kids would never read lengthy books. Nobody had ever heard of her — the books sold themselves, at least in the beginning. That takes a lot of skill and even more hard, hard work.

      The Pink Pig is at Rich’s — er, I mean Macy’s — Lenox Square. It used to be downtown, but as with too many Atlanta traditions, (hello, Atlanta Braves) this one fled to the suburbs. It probably will still seem magical to kids, although I wouldn’t take anything for the memory of when it flew over downtown Atlanta.

  18. Michael

    I also checked out” Alexander’s, very terrible, disgusting, bad, horrible day.” Something like that. You suggested this one I think or referenced it. By Judith Voirst. This ones is a classic- funny, and it seems like many of the best always have a little repetitive hook.

    • Michael, Judith Viorst writes some very good things for adults too. She manages to find the humor in everyday frustrations.

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