We live in a world where silence is a precious commodity. How many of us have noise canceling headphones? We are constantly inundated with background noise. Muzak in elevators, stores and restaurants, phone ringtones, electronic beeps and pings, ubiquitous tv monitors blare news or sports, not to mention music from car stereos, so loud that you can't hear yourself think, often accompanied along with the thump, thump, thump of bass so intense it makes your teeth rattle, throw in sirens and motorcycles, each one adds to the incessant assault on us.
Music and silence–how I detest them both!….[Hell] has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end….The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. (The Screwtape Letters, emphasis added) . C.S. Lewis aptly points to the spiritual dimension and source of "Noise-Noise." It is interesting to note that Lewis published "Screwtape Letters" in 1942, if he were alive today he would have to publish an updated and revised edition.
Silence can be a punishment for the prisoner in solitary confinement, or for some, silence is a refuge from the din of daily life. Jack Bogut a KDKA radio personality, coined the term "audio aspirin." For me taking an "audio aspirin" as a kid was walking into the Carnegie Library on a Saturday morning or St. Joseph's Church on Sunday, both places were like entering into a "cone of silence," a sense of peace washed over me. I still have fond memories of doing so. Heaven is ‘the regions where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence.’ (C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters)
Do you practice silence? Silence is a spiritual discipline where we create an environment for God to speak to us , by reading and meditating on the Word, prayer and worship. "For God alone, my soul waits in silence" (Psalm 62:1), "Let all the world keep silence before him." (Habakkuk 2:20), "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10), "He leads me beside still waters . He restores my soul." (Psalm 23:2b-3a). These are just some of many Bible verses that talk about being silent before the Lord.
I have been practicing silence since I was a kid. I have always enjoyed getting up at 0: dark 30 before everyone else to read a book and think. I enjoyed the quiet time before my family trickled down the steps for breakfast and the start of the day's commotion. Now, decades later it is a time where I read my Bible, pray and meditate. I find it to be an anchor for the day ahead. I have a habit of being 30-45 minutes early for work and I use it to catch up on email or to pray for my work shift, co-workers, patients ,doctors and the nurses we serve. I walk through the door with a sense of peace, often into a high stress environment, the difference it makes in the shift and my attitude towards it is palpable.
Socrates considered by many to be the wisest man in Greece once stated, "The unexamined life is not worth living." What did he mean? He meant that an unexamined human life is deprived of the meaning and the purpose of existence. Like all Greek philosophers there is wisdom and truth to what he said but it falls short of the Christian worldview. Christian's examine our lives in the light of Scripture, we are sinners in need of a savior. The Spirit convicts us and leads us into all truth. We need silence before the Lord to listen for that "still small voice," that spoke to Elijah many years ago, and still speaks to us today. Zechariah 4:6 tells us that God's work is "not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit." Do you hear him, are you listening? Take time and be quiet before the Lord. "You will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.'" (Isaiah 30:21) AMEN!