Last night a mighty storm with fast blowing winds and rain came through our area. I sat in the house listening to dead limbs being shaken from the big Oak tree in our front yard, the rain pounding on the roof. There were a few times I went outside to see the storm but the sun had already set and with the clouds overhead there wasn’t much to view. Then the power went out. It wasn’t surprising because of the fierceness of the wind. I went outside again and nothing could be seen but I could feel the wind threatening to blow me over as it had a couple of our potted trees. Finally, after a few hours, the storm had passed, the lights were back on, and I was thankful the storm has passed.
I don’t like storms at night. The biggest reason is that I can’t see anything, not even the direction of the blowing wind. As I sat in a candlelit living room, everything quiet but storm raging outside, I was reminded of life and the storms we face. There are times we see the storm coming but there are other times when one comes out of nowhere. It’s ferociousness rocks our lives and we feel blind as we try to feel our way forward. These can be the scariest of all because there is seemingly no light to see by, to make us feel safe, or to tell us we are nearing the end. The only thing we can do is wait, trusting that no storm lasts forever.
The Disease of Busyness –
Yesterday I attended a webinar on the importance of silence in the discipline of mindfulness. The two speakers, both doctors of psychology, wrote their thesis on the; “the silence in between” the notes in music. These pauses in between are just as important as the notes which are being played.
Too often we construct our lives with what we think makes us successful or at least look the part. We craft an existence that has no place for silence. We believe busyness is a sign of importance. Eugene Peterson says; “Busyness is the disease of our time.”
When there is no place for silence, reflection, taking the time to breathe in quiet and breathe out the noise which pollutes our lives we die on the inside, in the deepest parts of our being where only silence can fill.
A Little Quieter –
Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a bed in our living room. When Beth and I are sitting watching the television or messing with tablets or the laptop most of the time he is the room with us. We haven’t always had a bed for him here but after we had to put Belle, our Golden Retriever, down we knew he would need some extra attention. Everything has worked out fine until the last couple of months. For some reason, he has become extra sensitive to noises coming from the TV. Explosions, gunfire, yelling or loud music in a movie rattles him and he begins to get up and wander around the living room. We’ve tried turning down the sound on the television as much as we can and this helps. We’ll also watch a documentary where there is mostly talking and this works. However, any type of movie or show with startling noises and/or blaring musical score and he gets up and we tell him to get back on his bed and this scenario is repeated until finally one of us takes him into the kitchen.
I was thinking about him today, this behavior which has developed, and decided maybe he’s not the one with the issues. When I think of 2016, the year which has passed, I think of noise. Most of it came as a result of the political season and the candidates, the talking heads on television and radio, the choosing of sides by almost everyone and a cacophony of opinions, predictions, debates between candidates and their followers, accusations, lies and boisterous babel that still hasn’t stopped.
I’ve decided, like our dog Trooper, I want a quieter 2017. Please…and world peace would also be acceptable.
Drowning Out –
One of my favorite sounds is rain on a tin roof. One of my least favorite is the tail pipe extensions folks are putting on their vehicles. These extensions turn normal sounding cars and trucks into loud, ear-piercing, window rattling, jet planes driving by.
This past weekend we finished placing a tin roof on our porch. Last night, around 5pm, a thunderstorm brought some much-needed rain into our area and I went outside to sit and listen. Often, around this time each day, drivers of the above mentioned boisterous vehicles have gotten off work and are driving by the house.
Yesterday evening, however, I noticed the rain on the tin roof drowned out all other noise. The trucks and cars I recognized as being converted were no longer obnoxious. My closeness to the tin roof protected my ears, my nerves and the stillness of my spirit.
Wisdom tells us that presence is influence. The closer we stay to our source of comfort and peace the less distracted and deafening the chaos and craziness of this world can can be.
There’s something about sitting outside, at the end of a busy day, saying evening prayers. It’s a release and refilling, an exhaling of busyness, appointments, task lists and an inhaling of stillness and peace.
Yesterday evening I sat on the porch reading and reciting words that have been said at sundown for centuries when a butterfly landed on my foot. It was beautiful, graceful, and seemingly weightless. Even as I watched it crawl on my toes I couldn’t feel it. It was there but not there, present with no pressure. (I believe God is very much this way as well.)
As I continued with a Psalm, I was also reflecting on the moment. No vehicles were whizzing by, no dog barking or birds singing, the wind was faint and the wings of this creature silently lifted up and set back down. I thought about the beauty of silence, the holiness of a moment when the world is hushed, even briefly.
In a time when the loudest politician, brashest celebrity, craziest…whatever, gets the most attention, and people have an insatiable need to always be talking, playing, yelling, singing, making noise or listening to it, silence has become a rare treasure.
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” #MotherTeresa