God’s first language is silence;
all else is translation. -Thomas Keating
I could blame it on my brothers. I remember the sounds of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Chicago, Elton John, The Cars, Blue Oyster Cult, and many others, blasting so loud that I thought the roof would come down.
I could blame it on my mom, who loved to drive with Molly Hatchett cranked up on the cassette player in her car. I could even blame it on Jim, who loves all kinds of music from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Alison Kraus.
But the truth of the matter is…I’m a rock and roll girl. From my early days of Frampton Comes Alive to Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, I love loud music. Anyone who ever went to a concert with me in my youth, knows that my place was always stage right, in front of the giant speakers. I not only wanted to hear the music…I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted the reverberation to carry me up and away with it.
So, it comes as quite a surprise to this rock-o-phile (yes, I made up that word), that as much as I love to ‘crank it up’, I find myself rarely turning any music on anymore. Why? I have developed a deep appreciation for silence. It is a rare occasion that I even turn the radio on in my car or my stereo on at home. Jim says it’s because I spend so much time with the monks at St. Meinrad. He’s even commented on it when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours or say the Rosary together.
I’ve slowed down. I’ve found myself being more deliberate, not only in my prayer life, but when I speak. I’ve taken the first word in the Rule of Benedict to heart…Listen.
In the book of Mark, chapter 6, Jesus sent the apostles out “two by two”. The disciples “went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many sick and cured them.” It doesn’t tell us how long the disciples were gone, but the thing that really struck me about this story is what happens next.
When the apostles returned and told Jesus all that they had done and taught, his first words to them were as follows:
“Come with me by yourself to a quiet place and rest.”
The apostles traveled by foot. They were tired and scripture tells us that “people were coming and going in great numbers and they had no opportunity to even eat.” Jesus knew and appreciated how weary the twelve men were. And, although the crowds kept coming to see him, Jesus knew they needed to rest. “So, they went off by boat by themselves to a deserted place.”
Jesus knows that we need that quiet in our lives too. Not just the absence of noise, but purposeful quiet. He knew the disciples needed to just be…not be “on.” He knew they needed to rest their minds as well as their bodies. So do we.
In Mark, chapter 1, Jesus got up very early, while it was still dark, and went to a quiet place where he could be alone. “There he prayed.” Many times, I find myself distracted by the various noises around my house. It could be my mother-in-law’s television, the dishwasher, the phone ringing…you get my meaning. During the day, the noises never stop. And if you are trying to find quiet, the smallest sound can creep in and distract you. For me, I find my quiet times during the night. Occasionally, it will be interrupted by a coyote yipping or an owl hooting or a loud truck. But for the most part, because of where we live, the nights are quiet.
I know I’ve written several times about silence and listening…I guess because it’s such an important part of my life now. I spend less time praying and more time listening. And when I’m feeling out of sorts, it’s usually because my quiet time has been neglected.
Oh, I still love to roll down the windows and listen “loud and proud” on occasion. But this rock n roll girl is finding a quieter pace about her these days.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6