In a world where apple logos are abundant and where flatscreen tvs link directly to a wide array of steaming services and where I can use wireless headphones that sync to my watch, silence is becoming ever more rare. One of the recognized elements of a luxury is the uncommonness of the item. For many in the West luxury goods are harder and harder to come by because our baseline living standards have climbed so high.
It may be counter-intuitive but I cannot help but think that silence, quiet, solitude in a loud and busy world, is a luxury right beneath our eyes, and its benefits are great. Many o fun long for the mountaintop cabin or oceanside chalet, is only for a weekend.
God can and does reach us however He sees fit and some of the noise in our world today is his attempt to do so. This may be in the form of podcasts and recorded sermons, it may be in the voice of someone needing help and offering us the opportunity to flex our service muscles and care for Christ himself as we care for the least. I know this is true and I know this is possible.
I also know that I am more likely to recognize God’s voice amidst the noise if I spend time with him in silence.
There is the famous verse that God was the still small voice, not the fire and thunder.
How can one hear that amidst the noise?
At least in my case this takes training.
We need space away from the noise, which is a rare space indeed. And yet, we can create that space ourselves if only for a little while. As a pastor and father of three little kids I know that it takes intention and purpose to set aside the time for silence. I know it won’t be easy for you, but it will be worth the effort.
(My knee this morning—as I was meditating a young cat I live with was chasing a figment of his imagination and using his claws to cover ground faster, apparently I was in his way:)
One of the ways I can convince myself to do it is to consider silence as a little luxury I can give myself, like a hot bubble bath with a champagne flute (which I cannot give myself:).
Luxury is a good word for it because it is not absolutely necessary, I can (and do) meditate and pray in louder circumstances, but o is it ever nice to have a bit silence!
My tips for silence:
- Get up early or stay up late (we are only looking for a few minutes here)
- Sit quiet as the coffee/tea brews in the morning (this is one of my favourites, it is 5 minutes with a timer and I have nothing else I need to be doing yet because before the magic brew is done I am not that useful)
- Notice the hidden silent moments in your day (if you look for them they are there and the more you look the more you will find!).
- Notice the potentially silent moment, at the bus stop, on the train, as you wait in line for something, instead of grabbing the phone and scrolling, just breathe (I am better at suggesting this one than doing it!)
- Use silencing headphones (this is my least favourite but it can be helpful in a pinch).
- When you see a nicely positioned bench with a view, stop and sit a moment (I have never regretted doing this, even if it makes me a little late for something).
- Allow natural queues to slow you down, (like the robust scent of lilacs in spring, the crunch of leaves in the fall and other such natural occurrences can call us to slow down, and enjoy.)
Silence is a luxury. Seek it out, carve it out if you have to, and embrace it. The advertisers are correct life is better with a little luxury, it’s just a matter of which ones truly help us to flourish.