Sunday, November 13, 2022

Filling the silences. . .

We all complain about how busy we are, how full our schedules are, and how weary we are trying to keep up with the pace of things.  But at the same time, we give into the temptation to fill all the silent moments of our lives with noise that is itself as taxing upon us as our busyness.  We all know the old axiom that we work at our play and play at our work but I fear it has been replaced with another evolution of the work/play axis.  We may not work all the time but we are on all the time -- tuned into the world through our digital devices and constantly pursuing the next best thing on our screens.  Sometimes it is work.  Sometimes it is boredom.  Sometimes it is play.  Sometimes it is distraction.  Even with the sound off, our screens are part of the noise of our busy and wearying lives.

We do this everywhere but also in the Church.  I know I am guilty of it.  We over schedule our buildings to justify their cost.  We over schedule our children in the hope that such distraction will keep them from being consumed by the world.  We over schedule worship with barely any moments of silence and those generally suspect or presumed to be accidental.  We don't know what to do with silence anymore.  We turn our devices in part because we have grown uncomfortable with the silence.  We have trouble turning off our screens even in worship because we fear something might be happening that we might need to know.  It is the noise that threatens our sanity every bit as much as the dizzying pace of our lives.  Together they form a significant part of the problem of peace and contentment -- even among Christians.

For years I tried and have pretty much given up the prospect of allowing even 30 seconds of silence after the sermon -- time to reflect and consider and wind down before we are abruptly moved on and the liturgy picks up the pace again.  The people complained about the silence.  Some felt it disrupted the natural pace -- a pace which was not naturally so busy but has now become normally busy.  Some did not know what to do with the silence -- a common complaint today.  Some just wanted church to get on and get over because they had plans for later.  In the end, we are all the poorer for filling in all the silences and creating noise to cover our discomfort with being alone or being alone with God (alone meaning being without the constant screen as well as people).

Do a survey of your own life and count the number of silent moments.  Add up how much and how little of the day is quiet.  And try to take a fast from your devices and from the media once in a while -- until that becomes something you are comfortable with and then make those media and device fasts more frequent and longer.  Your sanity and peace of mind will thank you for it.  And, by the way, if that means skipping reading this blog, then do it.  You don't need my permission but you have it.

1 comment:

Wurmbrand said...

As we near the end of the Church Year, it's possible that we will sing, "Wake, awake, for night is flying!"

We need to feel slapped upside the head by this and to consider what things make for us -not- to be "awake." Otherwise we sit in the pew and think we are awake because our eyes are open. But the wakefulness here is an inner wakefulness, and innumerable distractions put that wakefulness asleep, many of those distractions presumed to be innocent.