Our city is bright and noisy tonight. As the annual summer festival winds down, cars line the streets, music blares from the concert stage, firecrackers pop, and people laugh and yell. The night is cool, the grass already covered in dew. Patchwork quilt draped over my shoulder, I hold the hand of a young boy with each of my own as we climb the little hill.
We spread our blanket on the grass and settle down just as the first firey explosion lights up the sky. The huge festival speakers sing country music odes to summer, to America. Their song is not my song tonight.
We are removed from the crowd at the top of this little hill. With no one around, we quietly enjoy the show. This time around there are no loud yells, no happy dances or wrestling matches in celebration of a particularly sparkly firework.
One one side, Ryan lays on his tummy, chin in his hand, analyzing the shape and color of each new burst. I rub his back, his hair. His utter boyness amazes me. Gone is the little toddler who sat in my lap and watched these same fireworks in wonder not so long ago. Gone too the preschooler, so afraid of the bright lights and loud noises. This boy is so assured, so confident, so independent, even as he snuggles a little closer and allows me to rub his back and baby him just a little.
On the other side, Sam wiggles from one position to the next. First he sits, then kneels, then lays on his tummy. He invents a game where he asks for a kiss, and upon receiving one falls to the ground laughing. The fireworks for him are secondary to the rare delight of being out past bedtime, in the dark, with Mommy and Ryan. He asks questions that I cannot answer about why the fireworks are red or green, or why that one looked like Saturn. He lives, here and now, joyfully and without reservation. Each time I kiss him and he tumbles down again, I revel at the soft skin and hair against my lips.
The noise that surrounds us– the rev of the cars on the street down below, the laughter of people, the twang of the music, even the boom of the explosions– is not a part of us tonight. This night is not about fire in the sky, not really. It is about me and these two boys.
These two boys who have been so amazing as they have adjusted to a new baby in the house. Who have so often been forced to wait on the sidelines as their mommy has fussed over their sister. Who have learned new measures of independence and never said so much as a bad word about their new sibling. These two boys who I have taken for granted so greatly in the last two months. Who are such an amazing blessing.
We sit in this sweetness, surrounded by noise, filled with peace.
How many times have I laid in my silent house, wide awake, yearning for peace?
Peace does not come from the quiet, although we so often associate the two as though we can’t have the one without the other. Peace comes in spite of the noise– truly passing all understanding– whether that noise be a busy suburb on a warm summer night or the noise of life as it crashes around us.
And as I sit on the top of this little hill, watching the noisy night unfold before me, these two precious gifts snuggled and wiggly by my side, I am at peace.
It is well with my soul.