We live in a noisy world. There’s noise everywhere. Even as I sit in a “quiet” place to write this, I hear the noise of a ceiling fan creaking, the distant but distinct roar of an occasional vehicle, and the soft hum of an air conditioner. It’s hard to escape from the noise around us.
We, as a society, have become comfortable with noise. Almost every space around us is filled with it. It has become an acceptable part of life. Noise is seductive. We are tempted to fill our ears with anything… except silence! We even have noise machines.
Fred Rogers, the “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Mr. Rogers, said, “How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?” Extra-special meaning. All of us are looking for extra-special meaning on some level. Quiet moments. Most of us have very few of those in our lives. Could it be we have forgotten just how nourishing silence can be?
Life expresses itself through noise. When a machine begins to break down, it makes noise. The sounds of creaking, squeaking, and clanging warn us that something is wrong. Noise is necessary to life, yet silence reveals a quality of life. The organs of our body express themselves without much, if any, noise. I wonder if the noise around us is an expression of the lack of inner silence that plagues so many of us?
Inward silence is the result of a soul at peace and rest. Scripture has much to say about silence. In Psalms we are instructed to “be still and know” (Psalm 46.10) and to “wait in silence” (Psalm 62:5). The prophets, speaking to people living in chaos and uncertainty, instructed them to “wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:26) and “let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
I’ve found that it’s hard to escape the noise around us. It’s even harder to enjoy the silence once we have escaped the noise. Are we afraid of what might happen in the silence? Facing fear can bring great reward! Does the awkwardness of silence intimidate us? Just because something is awkward does not make it wrong!
Meditation. Deep relaxation. Quiet time. Chair time. Down time. Whatever it may be called, a time separated from outside stimulation can settle our inner turmoil and allow us to reflect on what is important. As Mr. Rogers said, “Real revelation comes through silence.” We could all benefit from real revelation!