“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” (Mother Teresa)
Two weeks after I graduated from high school I left the logging, ski bum town of 18,000 in which I'd been raised and headed across the country to live near Washington, DC. Culture shock doesn't begin to describe what I experienced but at 18 years old I was extremely fearless and spent every free moment I had exploring the city. I loved the history and the old buildings, wandering through the Smithsonians, visiting the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, going to Arlington Cemetery and sitting up at the Iwo Jima memorial at night to look out over the nation's capital and to watch the stars.
I explored Georgetown, Alexandria, the huge mall at Tyson's corner (our 'big' mall consisted of JC Penneys, KMart and a few mom and pop places)in which my love affair with Neiman Marcus began and the rural roads of Virginia. I ventured into Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio (to visit my grandma), and as far down as the southern states of Alabama and Florida.
While I didn't mind my time in the city, it was the quiet out-of-the-way places that interested me most. I loved getting in my car, turning on the radio and just driving to wherever the road lead.
I've lived in several places besides my hometown in Oregon that ranged in population from 350,000+ down to a tiny town of 217 where the pheasants out numbered the people. I've lived in towns at the base of the Rockies in Colorado, the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming, the coast of northern Georgia and on the Potomac River in Virginia. And of everywhere I've lived my favorite places are the small towns tucked in the mountains where the woods are just a few steps from my front door.
I don't know of any greater peace in life than being the one soul out on a trail surrounded by old growth pine trees and hearing the silence broken only by the breeze as it gently blows through the forest. Or walking beside the river and watching the small ripples form as it flows lazily along. For the most part, my footsteps on the trail, the click of my camera and the sound of my breathing are all I hear.
I honestly don't know how anyone hears God in chaos but I suppose there are those that do. I know for myself that I have never been able to. I guess I should be able to hear God speak to me anywhere, whether in the middle of a big city surrounded by noisy traffic and throngs of people or on the side of a mountain all by myself.
But there is one place that my heart truly longs for and where my soul finds peace. And that place is in nature.