NOISE AND SILE NCE! Wallace Stegner had this to say about noise. “[The modern age] knows nothing about isolation and nothing about silence. In our quietest and loneliest hour the automatic ice-maker in the refrigerator will cluck and drop an ice cube, the automatic dishwasher will sigh through its changes, a plane will drone over, the nearest freeway will vibrate the air. Red and white lights will pass in the sky, lights will shine along highways and glance off windows. There is always a radio that can be turned to some all-night station, or a television set to turn artificial moonlight into the flickering images of the late show. We can put on a turntable whatever consolation we most respond to, Mozart or Copland or the Grateful Dead.” (Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose) I think we can all agree, if that is possible, that noise is all around us. As I write this my wall clock is ticking away, I hear a TV in the background, even my computer keyboard makes noise as I push the keys, at some point my ice-maker will drop some ice and my A/C just turned on with its familiar sound. Is it possible to really escape noise anymore?
Mother Teresa once wrote, “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.” I think there is a lot of wisdom in her statement though I found Christ in a church service with a very loud “hell fire and damnation” preacher. But my spiritual growth has been mostly in those moments when God and I are alone with very little noise and His book (printed and electronic versions) is opened before me. I think it interesting also that many of the Psalms were probably written in the nighttime when things were quieter and noise at a minimum. I also wonder just how a person can communicate and think deeply about and with God when their being is bombarded with noise and their minds distracted with so many other things in our society.
The author of Psalm 119:147-148 wrote, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” I think there is a lot to be said for silence and the absence of as much noise as possible. When our mind is completely on God, His Word, and the voice of the Holy Spirit I think there is much to be discovered about God and there is the opportunity to discover much about ourselves. And I think silence helps us to put much about this world and eternity into perspective. Maybe that in its self is why many people prefer much noise to silence.