Are you ‘at home in there’ to enjoy life?

This column was originally published as part of my “Looking Homeward” series at

I called them “peepers.”

In my toddler days, I played a wake-up game with my father, especially when he attempted to sleep late on Saturday mornings. I’d sneak into his bedroom, stand quietly beside him and demand of him, “Open your peepers!”

Then I would gently raise an eyelid and whisper, “Anybody at home in there?”

Sometimes he would pretend to sleep on, prompting me to address the other “peeper.” Then sometimes he’d jump up and whisper back, “Boo!” setting off my giggle box.

But the question was a good one, reaching beyond a toddler’s game with her dad.

Behind our closed “peepers,” is anybody at home in there? How alive are we? How connected are we? How aware and available are we to the sounds going on around us?

As summer sounds fade into fall’s new tempo, we realize that sounds are beautiful and indeed change with every season. But their beauty involves more than hearing. And our eyes are more than peepers; they are our gatekeepers that link the sounds of our outer world to the soul of our inner world.

That is, if we are “at home in there” and ready to receive them.

The long-debated issue about the lonely tree falling in the forest and making no sound unless someone is there to hear it comes into focus here. The sounds of family and friends are mere vibrations in empty chambers of our souls unless we are available to greet them.

There are many sounds that signal friendship and family if we pause to listen.

There’s the sound of an outside door opening when you’ve been inside alone all day.

And the sound of, “Hey Mom, what’s up?” humming through our wireless wonders.

Or the chime of an e-mail or text message, announcing the arrival of a new thought or question.

Then there’s the sound of visiting small feet pattering on hardwood floors that reminds you of early parenting days as you plunder your junk drawer for crayon stubs and a clean sheet of paper.

And the sound of kids laughing as they tell their stories to each other, and you begin to realize that no matter how close you are to them, there’s always a part of them you will never know.

Then there’s the warm sound of metallic music coming from a chiming doorbell when you’re expecting the arrival of a close friend.

And the sound of a delivery truck leaving, giving notice that somebody’s reaching out to you.

Suddenly, as you sit in the symphonic concert of daily sounds, it dawns on you that all these beautiful sounds involve people moving in and out of your life, connecting their world to yours.

And you are grateful that behind those peepers, you are indeed “at home in there,” ready to observe and engage in all the sounds of life around you.