|I hate silence.
And I think stillness is worse.
They make me fidgety, make me
feel like I should do something.
Like many Americans, I am
almost constantly surrounded by the chattering and blaring of
the radio and the constant yammering of television. An endless
moving backdrop, the noise and motion are hardly worth noticing
but their absence immediately disrupts the flow.
I like quiet but only in short
bursts. Anything longer sends me into a fit of activity --
running, hiking, cleaning the house, something.
There's something comforting
about all the noise and motion. It gives me a sense of my own
importance, makes it easy to tune out what I donít want to hear
or think about. It keeps me from seeing myself as I truly am. I
don't have time to reflect. And those moments when God's voice
does somehow penetrate the blur can be quickly and easily
The blurred living keeps me
more comfortable, safely from the knowledge of who I really am.
It gives God fewer opportunities to show me the darkest and
neediest parts of my life and the darkest and neediest part of
other people's lives.
Of course, that sort of false
comfort comes at a price. It gives God fewer opportunities to
show me his love, his mercy, his sufficiency. It holds back my
Sure, I give God short
opportunities to speak to me -- a few minutes here, a few
minutes there. He'd better talk fast though. I'm on a schedule
here. As a testament to his grace, He does indeed speak to me
when I give Him only a few moments or even no dedicated time at
all. Yet, I fear I'm like a bride too busy fixing her hair and
her make-up to hear the urgent loving messages of her groom.
Seeing this in my own life has
led me to believe that our culture of noise and motion is among
the biggest barriers to faith. I used to shake my head wondering
how it is that masses of people can live with inconsistent
believe systems (that there is a God, for example, but no need
to determine who He is or whether his existence ought to alter
their lives). But it seems to me now that the perpetual
cacophony makes it entirely possible to spend decades of life
with only rare and fleeting moments of reflection on deep and
The solution is not an easy
one. I'll be the first one to admit I do a miserable job of
carving out times of true solitude, true silence. What little
time I do set aside is often short and interrupted by a torrent
of other thoughts and priorities.
The only remedy I've been able
to concoct is to make the time, to treat it as a spiritual
discipline. I must purposely set aside quiet hours to commune
with God. Maybe it's early in the morning or late at night or a
weekend away, but I must be intentional. I know myself well
enough to be sure that I will not sit in God's presence without
While I know that church
retreats have a myriad of purposes, I suspect that its attendees
might sometimes be better served if we allotted time for
silence, where everyone is encouraged to find a quiet corner to
be alone with God, quiet and still. I know we expect volleyball
and swimming and two sessions daily of teaching at these
retreats, and don't get me wrong: they all have their place. But
maybe there should also be a two- or three-hour period when
everyone is asked not to speak to one another in favor of time
and quiet before God.
Maybe then, we'd somehow learn
to stop being so fidgety when the noise and motion subside. We'd
learn to be still in the presence of our Maker.
Michelle Rushlo has a day job as reporter for
a high-tech news website in the Bay Area but prefers less nerdy
pursuits like running and making lopsided pottery.