The antidote to noise has to be silence. But so many of us are so used to background sound, that the thought of such stillness is alarming. Noise keeps us from facing ourselves, from confronting issues, from hearing God. And so we live with over-active minds, wrung-out emotions & tired bodies, and think it’s normal.
The answer to our need to be still can be found out in creation, away from the bustle of community life. There we can find a quietness to refresh & restore – if we let it. Of course the countryside and coast are not completely noiseless, they are actually filled with sound, but it’s gentle sound, natural sound, which seems almost super-imposed on the pervading silence.
How do we tune in to this restorative tranquillity? First, with the cooperation of our fellow explorers, we need to set aside time, starting with 10 focused minutes, increasing the amount as it becomes easier & more natural. Then we need to get really quiet inside… and listen….. listen to the voice of the natural environment: the birds singing or calling, far off sounds of tractors about their business, the occasional car. Listen to the bleating of sheep, the sound of the wind in the trees, the breaking of the waves on the shore.
Then listen deeper: to the silence beyond. Listen to the quiet of the earth, the voice of the sea, and immerse ourselves in it, soaking it up like a sponge, allowing it to calm our restless souls.
Finally, we need to listen for the voice of God. Ask Him to speak. Listen for the flow of thoughts – writing them down if there is a journal available. And allow His word to penetrate our inner being & bring rest.
The words of the old hymn say it well…
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee.
O sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.