Sounds of silence can be deafening

Courtesy of Creative Commons

My car radio is broken.  It has been for months now.  Funny thing is, the silence is only noticeable when I have someone else in the car.

Because even though my radio doesn’t play, my car is not a quiet place.  The noises of the road, traffic and of my old car itself are loud enough, but couple that with the noises inside my head and it’s like being at a rock concert.  You know, those inner conversations you have with yourself.  What??  You don’t have those?  Oh well…I do, and they seem non-stop sometimes.

I think about everything.  I think about what I have to do for the day, what I did yesterday, what I am going to fix for dinner (or buy…let’s get real), what chores I left undone at the house, what assignments I have to finish at work, what I said to so-and-so that I shouldn’t have, what so-and-so said to me, and on and on. I think you get the idea.  Fortunately, I don’t have a long commute to work.  When I AM in the car for long periods of time (45 min to an hour), I find that I start singing if I can’t think of anything to think about.  Again, no silence.

We live in a world of noise.  I remember first meeting my husband and he would turn the TV on just so there would be ‘noise’ in the house.  Sometimes he’d have the radio AND the TV on at the same time. All of these — TVs, radios, computers, smartphones — are distractions in our lives and things that keep us away from the silence that deep down, we fear.

I recently taught a Bible study series that encouraged the practice of the Daily Office.  I had never heard of this term before, but it is an ancient practice of offering to God prayers of praise.  You may be thinking that this sounds like a prayer/devotional time, but you are mistaken.  As Peter Scazzero described it, “The root of the Daily Office is not so much a turning to God to get something, but to be with Someone.”  There are four elements Scazzero described as part of the Daily Office:  stopping, centering, silence, and scripture. As part of the lesson, I had our class practice a mini Daily Office.  We began and end the brief scriptures with a minute of silence, and 15 seconds of silence in between 3 scripture readings.  I knew it would be uncomfortable for some of the class, but I didn’t realize that some wouldn’t be able to do it.  We attempted it twice.  Afterwards we talked about the experience and many admitted to being uneasy, restless and even not thinking about God, but more about their surroundings and other people.  Why are we afraid of the silence?

This idea intrigued me so much that I keep attempting to incorporate silence as part of my devotional time.  I don’t think I do it very well, because just like the silence of my car, there’s an inner noise that is hard to quiet down.  I do think it’s very worth the effort, though.  Psalm 46:10 instructs us to “Be still and know that I am God.”

Jesus understood the importance of silence too.  Mark 6:31 (NLT) says, “Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”

Even if we have silence in our physical world, our emotional world can be fraught with commotion and racket.  Hence, continually practicing times of true silence before God can be an enriching experience.  God has been known to speak in a still, small voice (see I Kings 19:12) after all the commotion.

Though it’s not known if Jesus was born on a silent night, (and I’m pretty sure that Mary was not silent while giving birth), one of my favorite Christmas carols is Silent Night.  The song makes me ponder silence and holiness, which I think God wants.   I leave you with the lyrics, written by a young priest in Austria, Joesph Muhr, in 1818.

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace

 

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born

 

Silent night, holy night!

Son of God love’s pure light.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

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