04 Feb Noise, Noise, Noise
Noise, noise, noise: we live in a world filled with noise. Whether I am at home or at work, I am bombarded by noise. There is, of course, the never-ending sound of traffic—neighbors coming and going, sirens blaring, cars whizzing past my office accompanied by sounds of honking and screeching and trucks shifting gears. Radio and television produce noise 24/7, if you want to turn it on. Then there are noises that come with being part of a family: dogs barking, children playing, people laughing, having conversations together. And, of course, our “devices” are constantly pinging and ringing, telling us that a text or email or phone call requires an immediate response.
I wonder, sometimes, if we are losing the ability to be silent. Of course, some folks don’t see the need for silence, so it’s a moot point for them. But, I am keenly aware that my soul needs stillness and quiet. I can’t be healthy without silence and regular times of solitude, but it’s not easy to carve out space and time for it. The “tyranny of the urgent” is always banging on the door demanding that I scurry to do its bidding. “Soul care” gets pushed to the end of the line where it seldom sees the light of day.
Next week on Wednesday, February 10, the church marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the liturgical season that prepares us for Jesus’ journey to the cross and culminates with Holy Week. It is a season that encourages us towards repentance and self-denial, as we walk with Jesus through the darkest days of his life and wrestle with the dark and hard things in our own lives. Lent is the perfect time to embrace the discipline of silence as we listen for God and rest in God’s care for us.
Calming our souls takes serious effort. In addition to the constant noise that surrounds us externally, often, even when we are apparently silent, we are still involved in great discussions within, struggling with imaginary verbal sparring partners or with ourselves. Silence means leaving to God what is beyond our reach and capacity. A moment of silence, even very short, can be a holy stop, a sabbatical rest, a truce of worries. Remaining silent, we trust and hope in God. It was after the wind and after the earthquake and after the fire that the prophet Elijah heard the voice of God, “in the sound of sheer silence.” (I Kings 19:12) When words and thoughts come to an end, God is there in silent wonder and admiration.
My church enters Lent with an Ash Wednesday service that ushers us into silence. We borrow music from the French Taize Community which values silence in a way that is very difficult for most of us to understand. The liturgy and Scripture readings are cocooned inside ever-lengthening times of quiet. It is a peaceful, calming service. We invite you to join us at 7:30 p.m. on February 10th, as together we experience being enfolded by silence before God.
Yours for the Kingdom,