In solitude, you hear God’s voice. His silence fills the largest rooms with a deafening echo. To hear no one speak, is to be blessed with God’s music. None knew that better than the old man, sitting on a mountain top that he declared his long before anyone had stepped on its rigid rocks.
The five hundred and thirty year old man, with eyes that squinted in a constant smile, and wrinkles on his face that were dug by time, was the only one that spoke the Lord’s language. His dark hair lightened with the light of the sun, and shone with the moon’s luminescence, and his lips never parted more than thrice to interrupt his only friend’s conversation that spanned over the millennia.
The first time was when a bird with a broken wing landed itself in front of his rock. It sat and chirped in pain.
“Ye’ who sits on the rock.” it spoke. “Ye’ who sat silently for so long. Will you not speak to your God to heal my wing, and let me be free of this pain again?”
The old man pondered and looked at the bird as it squirmed and twisted itself on the ground. He scooped the wounded bird into his palms, and brought it nearer.
“Why should I?” he said, breaking the two hundred year silence.
“Do you not see how I howl? How I bicker with life itself, and curse my existence because of this suffering He bestowed on me?”
“Mistake my silence not for imperceptiveness.” answered the man, bothered by the bird.
“Then how can you simply watch me writhing in pain? Lest you be heartless, a villain spawned of evil, surely you wish nothing but the best for my health.”
The man, still holding the bird in his palm, slowly dropped him onto his lap.
“I hold nothing but love for you.” said the old man, “Your voice is that of God’s will, but so is your pain.”
“And what God wishes pain on his creations?” shrilled the bird.
“Tell me, bird. Have you not fed on many worms in your day?” asked the man, petting the bird’s head.
“By his grace, I have fed on more than a thousand.” he answered proudly.
“And how many of them have screamed for mercy for themselves and their families while you fed on them.”
The bird mustered a thought, trying to ignore his pain.
“Countless. Nearly all. All but one.” he said.
“Tell me of this one.” said the old man.
“The most courageous of worms.” said the bird, “He did not weep, or yell, or scream, or curse. When he saw my approach, he merely looked at me, and spoke but six words.”
“And what were those words, my friend.”
“Such is the will of God.” continued the bird, “Never had I regretted eating, but that was truly a meal I was not worthy of.”
“Tell me, my new friend.” said the old man. “Do you not wish a worthy death such as that noble worm?”
“I wish no death, old fool.” shrieked the bird. “I wish to fly free, and sing with my voice, and return to my loved ones.”
“Then I will not regret your death.” said the Old man, reaching his hand around the bird’s neck.
“I beg of you, I am far too you–”
The bird’s neck snapped in between the man’s rigid hands, and that was the last sound made by the old man for the next seventy three years, until on a day, a butterfly passed him, and landed on his shoulder.
“You, old man.” said the butterfly.
“Good day, friend, where do you roam to?”
“So it is you.” yelled the butterfly excitedly. “He who speaks to the soul.”
“I merely listen to it.” said the old man.
“I seek my loved one from a past life.”
“And where were you from in your past life?”
“I was a man like you once. My hands were riddled with cuts, working on a farm, feeding my family, raising my youngest son to take my place.”
“An honorable deed.” responded the old man.
“It was an honorable life I led, but my death had no pride in it. A sword pierced my back, and I knew not what became of my family. For the past twenty years, I have traveled these lands, and I was told to seek you, and your mighty friend with whom you speak.”
The old man pondered silently, and looked up to the sky. He nodded in agreement with the silence.
“Is it knowledge you seek, or peace of mind, butterfly?”
“Knowledge. What do you know of my family?” yelled the butterfly.
“I know that they live lavishly off the land you have left behind. Your son is now a man of thirty three years, and he plows the ground like you once had, and has hands that bare similar cuts to your former self. His forehead sweats like yours, and his eyes smile the same way.”
The butterfly was pleased with the news, and fluttered around the old man’s head.
“Your wife despises him for it, the same way she despised you.” he continued, and the butterfly landed back on his shoulder.
“What do you mean?” asked the butterfly.
“She resents him for never becoming what she had wished him to be, the same way she resented you for losing your father’s fortune. She sharpens the same blade that was used to kill you, awaiting your son.”
The butterfly gasped, and let out a shriek in fear.
“Can you not ask of your friend to strike her, to cripple her, to save my son?”
The old man sat quietly, and pondered.
“Such is the will of God.” he said. “Pain and suffering are the culmination of beauty. Be happy for his loss, for it means he had once gained. Be proud of his achievements, for that implies he once was a failure.”
“What use is there to you old, man? You are but a barer of bad news, and a fixer of nothing.” said the butterfly, fluttering away from the old man, and down the hill.
It wasn’t until a few more hundred years that the old man had found himself in need of speech. A large dark figure, with wings that blotted out the sky, made itself appear to his side.
“Know ye’ who I am?” it asked.
“Aye. You are death himself.” said the old, man, still and calm.
“Have you no quarrels with me?”
“Only that you interrupt His blissful beauty.”
“And who is this ‘He’ you speak of?” asked death.
“The eternally still one, he who speaks with no words, and acts with no movement.”
“Fear you not my presence? The loss of your soul and ears to hear Him by?”
“I fear nothing but His words.”
“What makes you say so?” asked death.
“For silence to speak, the world must be silent, and for all to be quiet, none must exist.”
“Do you fear the end of this wretched world?” asked death.
“No.” mused the Old man. “I fear only His words.”
Death retracted his wings, and stood silently.
“Tell me, you most beautiful of creatures.” said the man, “Have you taken the time to ponder the beauty of his silence.”
Death pondered on the question, and answered.
“Before we leave then, I ask you to do one thing.”
“What be it?”
“Sit on this rock near mine, and listen to his beauty.”
“So it shall be.” said Death, and took a seat near the man.
At first, silent befell the mountain. Nothing but the wind that made itself abundant was audible. The man seemed amused by it.
Death wanted to speak, but he knew of the wisdom this man had. No man can welcome death without bravery, and courage is the sign of knowledge. It took not long before death became amused.
God’s silence was the chirping of the birds. The laughing of the wind, the clapping of the leaves on the trees, the chorus of budding flowers, the crying of the sky and the pain of death itself.
“Why have you shown me this, old man?” asked death.
“It is all I have. All I ever had. All I will ever own.”
“Is it then yours?” asked death “Is it not God’s?”
“His silence is our gift. Ours only. Your words, are his silence. Mine are his will.”
“A lesson was granted to me today, only by his silence.” said death, “But that will not be your savior.”
“I seek no savior.” said the old man.
“Then what have you to say to I, death, that will befall you on this moment.”
“Such is the will of God.” said the old man.