Monday, November 21, 2011

Advent Practice: Silence

We live in a noisy world. Cars driving by, cell phones ringing, TVs blaring, radios thumping. Around every corner, in every nook and cranny of our life, there is noise. We have become accustomed to it - the noise is the soundtrack of our lives.

Into all this noise, we raise our voices in prayer. We tell God what we want, what we need, what we think God should be doing in the world. And then we go back to our lives, surrounded by the noise, and wonder why God does not answer our prayers.

Last week, I found myself in conversation with a young man with his iPhone earbuds on. Don't get me wrong - I'm no curmudgeon about technology. Actually quite the opposite. Yet this conversation was near impossible. He approached me at a coffee shop, to ask directions to another spot in town. I turned, and quickly gave him directions. He said, "What?" I spoke a little more slowly, a little bit louder. Response: "I didn't catch that last bit."
St. Anne says, "Shush!" 

Without recounting the whole thing, you see where this is going. It was a very aggravating conversation. I answered him very clearly, and very directly, but my inquirer could not make sense of my answers because he was not listening.

And so it is in our lives. Sure enough, we talk to God. We are quick to tell God what we think God should be doing in the world, or to make requests to God. But we are too busy talking and listening to the noise of our lives to hear any response that God might make.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and just known that they were not listening to you? As you talk, you can see on their face that - rather than really listening to you - they are thinking of what they are going to say next? I have a feeling that we often seem that way to God.

Advent invites us to quiet the noise, quiet down, and listen. Stop talking for a minute. Turn off some of the noise that we invite into our lives, and really - attentively and intentionally - listen.

It's not always easy - especially this time of year. But find a quiet space and a quiet moment. No phone, no music, no television, no interruptions. Find a still and quiet space in your life, and listen. For if we can hear, God is speaking.

The Lord said to Elijah, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still, small voice.
~ 1 Kings 19:11-12

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for these wise words. We must be intentional in our interaction with God. The present world will always encourage us to pass Him by without ever listening for all the wonder He has to share with us. I really appreciate your post. God Bless. I intend to Occupy Advent