It is quiet in my house right now — relatively.
The girls are at school. Jill is at the gym. The landscapers and yardworkers who attend to my neighbors’ lawns haven’t arrived yet. No birds are singing. No dogs are barking.
But my iPod has Segovia softly plucking and strumming his Spanish guitar. And the refrigerator is humming. And one of the ceiling fans is knocking against its chain. And the keys to my laptop make a clicking noise.
So, it’s quiet in my house; it’s just not silent.
I miss quiet. I think we all do whether we realize it or not. The world was once a quieter place without airplanes and automobiles, leaf-blowers and alarm clocks, ambulances and fire trucks.
I know nature has its own noises. Thunderclaps and such. But these are punctuation marks, not sentences.
There was a time, back before iPods and televisions and transistor radios, when the average person lived in relative quiet. I wonder if it made them a more contemplative people. It must have. Thought, deep thought, not the snorkeling skimming just beneath the surface that often poses as deep thought but the real deep stuff, requires quiet. It requires stillness.
In this age of constant noise and stimulation, we would be wise to remember that God is often silent. That’s not to say he’s non-communicative. He speaks without speaking, so to speak. An old hymn put it this way: “In the rustling grass I hear him pass. He speaks to me everywhere.” Ah, but when is the last time you actually heard the grass rustle? Or listened as the stars declared their Maker’s praise?
Going into a room in a building on a Sunday morning where music would be played was a break from the routine for millions of people in the centuries before radio and television. The rest of their lives were lived in an atmosphere of relative quiet. Their soundtrack was the song of the birds and the white noise of the wind. They left their quiet places to gather together and make noise. It was good for them to do so.
I wonder if it might be good for us to leave our places of noise to gather together and create silence every once in a while.
Our society doesn’t seem to know how to quiet itself — we are, quite literally, missing quiet — and I wonder if the church is part of the problem or part of the solution.