Missing Quiet

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.

3 Responses to “Missing Quiet”

  1. Jon Hazelip Says:

    John, you seldom say or write anything that is not worth receiving….I am glad to be connected….
    Are you familiar with the “Elevation Church” in Charlotte, NC….in Feb. 2006 there were 60….today they meet in four locations…simulcast(sp) to three…thousands meet….over 5000 professions of faith and over 1700 baptisms….his preaching approach is different that Rick’s and I assume yours….he preaches to the church too…..might be worth checking out…you might want to go to http://www.elevationchurch.org – click on “Cow Tipping” series…click again to get the message….click on the last one listed….in a few mins. you will get the direction
    Jon, the Holy Spirit has convicted me that there are two major omissions from churches…Prayer & what we are not doing to take care of the Poor and those treated Unjustly…….If you haven’t read “The Hole In Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns…I urge you to do so………
    I don’t mean to preach…I just want to share what I feel the Spirit is leading me…………………….blessings, Jon

  2. Terry Says:

    I find that older people like quiet, guess I am getting older. I use to always keep the TV on for white noise. Since mom has come to live with us, she asks me to please turn off the TV. I have, and sit out at the lake more. I am surprised that I am reading more and time has passed faster in the quiet.

  3. opit Says:

    Just the fact of the sound is what’s different. It’s not just the roar of traffic either : we fill our lives overfull and wonder we have no time for contemplation. It’s literally driving people crazy from fatigue and sleeplessness.
    But I don’t recall a church service teaching meditation. Perhaps it should : but will that pay the bills ?
    I bumped into a Reiki service nearby on a regular basis. Since it’s online you could see what you think.
    One reason I mention it is because I recall a piece by a Roman Catholic priest who studied Buddhism :he thought the Eastern practice of constant prayer had potential for personal exploration. It spurred me to not only do so – but to explore the practice of prayer and meditation worldwide. I admit I’ve been relaxed about that – but I just keep my attention at the ready for inspiration.