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I moved to the country a little while ago. Inland country. I’ve never lived this far from town. There’s a paved road, but the only vehicles on it are those owned by my few neighbours as they come and go, or an occasional passing pickup truck. I can count the number of vehicles that roll by my house in the course of a day on two hands. This same number zoomed past me in the course of 3 or 4 seconds in my last city home.
Instead of the rush and and drone and stench of traffic, there is only bird song and sweet air. The birds sing all day long, especially the robins, who apparently have a lot to say to each other (or perhaps to all the other birds as well). I think the robins are the designated news bearers. I can tell when the rain is about to start by the change in their song, and I can also tell when the rain is about to end by a different change. I don’t need to consult the online weather forecast anymore. I just listen to the robins.
There’s also a Beethoven’s 5th bird. I’ve never heard it before. It’s not a city bird or a seaside bird. It sings the opening few notes of Beethoven’s 5th. Maybe if I play the whole symphony for it over and over, it will learn a few more notes.
For the first time in a long time, I sleep all the way through the night without interruption. I’m always surprised to wake and see it’s already daylight. It’s been years since I’ve slept through the night, night after night. Only on rare occasion in the city will I sleep through the night, but most nights not. In the country, it seems, I can sleep through every night.
The darkness outside my house on a cloudy night is uncompromising. It’s as black as I’ve ever seen, short of closing my eyes in a dark closet. On clear nights, the stars are everywhere above, like the sky has an overlay of sequence. There are not just occasional stars (the bright ones) and just in a small corner of the horizon, like in the city; they’re everywhere in the sky, all night long.
For the first time in my life, my neighbours came over to welcome me and introduce themselves when I arrived. This has never happened to me before. In all the houses and apartments I’ve lived in all over the world, I’ve rarely known my neighbours by name, and none have come to welcome me upon my move-in or to offer me a hand if I need one. These are actually real neighbours being neighbourly, not just strangers who live next-door.
The only down-side so far is the bugs, especially the ones who barge in uninvited and without knocking. I’ve had a few discussions with them about boundaries (they can come to the doors and windows, but no farther), but they pretty much ignore me and keep doing their own thing. I’ve had to move to a more defensive mode and avoid going outdoors at dawn and dusk, and vacuum every day instead of once a week. I think they’re finally getting the hint that they’re not welcome in the house unless they’re on their best behavior (no biting, no stinging, and stay out of the food!).
I like bugs. The ones who do breach the barriers I always gently carry back outside. I would expect the same treatment if I wandered in someplace I didn’t belong. Yes, I like bugs, I just don’t like being bugged by them. There are bugs in Heaven, but they don’t bug you. I think God gives them a different name when they get there.
Spiders I give free reign of the house because they’re hard workers and pretty much keep to themselves. We have a mutually respectful relationship: They respect my part of the house and I respect theirs. We get along well, and I thank them for their hard work.
I’m not sure why I didn’t think of moving inland before, away from the city. Maybe it was because of transportation logistics. I’ve never driven, so I rely mostly on public transit. But the ongoing mask mandates have made public transit inaccessible to me for the past year. In fact, most of the city has been inaccessible. The few times I ventured into stores that don’t deliver or offer curbside pick-up, I got harassed or chased out. The same has happened in hotels and public buildings. With my naked face, I am the new leper. People are afraid of me simply for existing. I am publicly shunned and shamed. I joked to someone a few months back that I should wear bells (like lepers in England used to do) to warn people that I’m coming so they can run and hide. The person thought I was serious and considered it a good idea.
With transportation no longer a guarantee and shopping all but off limits other than for deliveries and outdoor pick-ups, any motivation I had to remain in a city is gone. I can earn my daily bread from wherever I am, and it doesn’t get any better than this. I feel like a different human here. All the humans are different here. The birds are different. The air is different. The road is different. Even the bugs are different, in an enthusiastic kind of way. I know why Jesus chose to spend most of his time outside cities and towns and villages, only going into them to preach and teach, but otherwise living away from the hubbub. Life is just better when you’re surrounded by fewer people and more nature.
We were not made to live in fresh air-starved boxes piled on top of each other, not knowing each other’s names and constantly surrounded by noise and pollution and the rush of vehicles. We have to turn a part of us off in order to tolerate it, otherwise we’d be overwhelmed. The part we have to turn off is the part that connects us with our environment. In Satan’s economy, connectivity is about artificial telecommunications, but in God’s economy, connectivity is about communicating with each other and with the natural world naturally.
I am just now starting to experience life the way God intended us to live it on Earth (better late than never), and I cannot imagine going back to a city or even to a small town. Those of you who live in a rural area know what I’m talking about; those of you who are still stuck in a city for whatever reason, I recommend getting out permanently as soon as you can. Use cities as a resource, but not as a home. Let the place where you lay your head at night be dark and quiet and peaceful, and let your days be filled with open sky and trees, not buildings and cell towers.
What Satan intends for our harm, God will use for our benefit. The mask mandate was a blessing in the form of a disguise, as it finally got me out of the city.
And I ain’t never goin’ back.