Before my illness struck, I used to run around in a thousand different directions trying to do hundreds of things all at once. I was busy, happy, and focused. I felt like I had a handle on the world and that anything was possible. Then I became ill, and I was put into quarantine. I could only talk to friends and extended family through a closed window. I had to be constantly vigilant about my health. The restrictions were enormous. Suddenly, all of the outside noise from the world ended. Suddenly, all of my IMPORTANT projects were suspended. The culture shock was unimaginable. The life I used to live…just stopped.
My first year of quarantine was a nightmarish blur. I don’t really remember much about it. I was extremely ill, and I was struggling with adjustments. By my second year, cabin fever really hit me hard. I know that “quarantine” is difficult for some people to grasp, so let me spell it out for you. I had to quit my job. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t go to church. I couldn’t go to stores. I couldn’t go to restaurants. I couldn’t go to the movies. I couldn’t go out with friends. Most of the time, I couldn’t even leave my house to go to the mailbox. If a neighbor was running their dryer or mowing their lawn, I couldn’t go outside. If a ditch was being burned, or a field was being sprayed, or if the air was too smoggy, I had to stay inside my home. I spent lots of time with my nose pressed up against the glass watching the world pass by. It wasn’t exactly fun–and sometimes, I felt like I was going to go crazy!
So what did I do? The first year, I focused on survival. The second, I went a little nuts and threw all kinds of temper fits directed at God. But gradually, I began adjusting to my new lifestyle. I began studying Scripture, memorizing verses, and writing novels. As the years passed, I began appreciating the silence and the peace of quarantine. I began realizing that happiness could be found—even in the midst of tragedy. For hours at a time, I would sit in chair and just listen to what I felt God was saying to me. I began discovering the blessing hidden in the quiet.
I was in quarantine for seven years. Eventually, my health recovered to the point where I could take “field trips” and visit stores. One of the things that shocked me was the sheer volume of noise. I can remember walking into Walmart and clutching my hands over my ears. It felt like I was being bombarded by sound. All around me, people were talking and laughing, and above all their clamor, canned music was playing. The intensity of the sound made me nauseous. When I went to restaurants, I had to make sure my seat was facing the wall—watching the movement of people in conjunction with the high volume of sound would bring on a migraine. After seven years of sensory deprivation, it was difficult to readjust to movement, noise, and extra stimulation. But as time passed, I slowly adjusted. I began enjoying the noise and excitement again. It felt like I’d been asleep for a long time, and I was suddenly awakening to life! It was wonderful!
I still have some health issues, and I’m not completely integrated into my old lifestyle yet, but each day, I’m getting better. As I continue to recover, I’m trying to take the lessons I learned during quarantine with me. And one of the most important lessons is that although the world can be exciting, taking time out to enjoy quiet times can be a blessing. I never want to forget that in complete silence comes the greatest sound of all—the whisper of God telling me that He loves me and that everything is going to be okay. I never want to get so busy and enamored with “noise” that I forget the simple beauty of peace.