The Sound of Silence

I consume information compulsively.  I wake up in the morning and turn on the TV to check the weather.  I then traipse downstairs to check Facebook and several websites for the news, then thumb through the New Britain Herald while the TV continues to drone.  National Public Radio greets me when I get in the car, and ESPN SportsCenter accompanies my morning workout.  I am within a stone’s throw of a computer for most of my waking life, and with my new Droid, I am never out of reach of “content.”  After I come home from work and eat dinner with my family, I flip on the TV and again visit the computer.

People call it multi-tasking, reading email, or surfing the internet while working on a project and listening to the radio.  Multi-tasking sounds hip and productive.  But for me, devouring data like this both responds to and in turn creates anxiety.  I am always reading-listening-thinking.  Reaching for my mouse to check Facebook or read the headlines is like a nervous tick I can’t control, like what the meth or crack addicts I have known call tweaking.

After consuming information like this for years and years, I did something radical last week.  I turned off my car radio.  I wasn’t making a big statement, I had just had enough noise, enough reading-listening-thinking-reading- listening-thinking, and I turned off NPR.  This may sound ridiculous – so, you turned the radio off, big deal.  But the effect was dramatic.  It was quiet.  Sure there were car noises, but that continual rat-a-tat-tat of information overload was silenced for a moment.  So the next time I got in the car I left the radio off.  This time I paid attention to my thoughts and feelings, I watched my breath and practiced an exercise I learned in Centering Prayer.  It has been a week and a half since I have listened to the car radio.  Somehow, I have survived without NPR, and I now look forward to the sound of silence in my drives around town.  My car has become my own little dojo.

In the First Book of Kings, God comes to the prophet Elijah and says:

“Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

Now, I believe that God speaks to us everywhere, all the time, through wind, earthquakes and fire, and through current events on TV, the comments of friends on Facebook, and stories on NPR.  But sometimes God speaks in a still small voice.  And if we don’t take time to quiet the chatter, the rat-a-tat-tat, the cycle of read-listen-think, we might miss it.

Where do you hear the still small voice of God?  Practice a few moments of silence during your day.  How is it?

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Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. I think this is a wonderful idea. I too believe that God speaks to me through many mediums. God has always spoken to me through my best friend, who has always been my conscience. But I often ignore that tiny voice coming from inside me that tries to guide me. I second guess it, because my upbringing enforces that God must be external, distant. God must be dramatic and theatrical. Truthfully, when I think about it, it is that tiny voice that i have ignored, that i have never misinterpreted. it is always clear and concise.
    I think I am going to make a special effort to pay attention to it. Thank yo

  2. I use to think I needed to retreat to a special place to experience the stillness. Although I still enjoy my annual retreat to my mountain or last year to Hawaii I realize I don’t need to go anywhere all I need to do is quiet myself and slow myself to “be where my feet are at”. God speaks in sickness and health, good times and bad, laughter and tears. All I need to do is breathe and exhale all the noise within me and be present to the moment and listen. God speaks to me in the most unexpected places. I have come to enjoy the surprises that come when I am present and listen.

  3. We have the same car. I enjoy the break from the relentless noise…


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