Friday, 28 November 2014

What is that sound...?

This morning, as usual, I woke up at five o'clock.  However, as the mists of sleep drifted off me, I became aware of a strange sound, an unusual sound.  For a few minutes I lay there wondering what it was that I was hearing.  Then it dawned on me.  It was the sound of...silence.  Complete and utter silence.  No low level buzzing from all the electronics plugged in next to the bed.  No cluck-cluck from the geyser warming up and no humming coming from the neighbour's pool filter.  I peeped over my husband's shoulder at the alarm clock.  Its red digital display was black.  We were having a power outage.  I settled back against my pillow and let this rare moment wash over me, foreign, yet warm and welcoming. 
Every day we are surrounded by noise.  From the minute we are woken up by our alarm clocks until we fall asleep to the voice of the late night DJ till we finally silence him in a sleepy haze.  Even then there are still noises around us in the form of electronics, sirens in the distance and others that we are not consciously aware of.   Our days are filled with sound.  
Silence has become a rare commodity.  Modern man seems to fear the quiet.  I walked into a doctor's waiting room last week.  The place was full.  Soothing music filled the room, and at first one would think that there was a silence hanging in the air.  There was, after all, no conversation going on, till you noticed a droning sound and the click-click and tap-tap of dozens of fingers on the keyboards of laptops and Smartphones.  Every single person there was totally engrossed in their own electronic world.  I sat there in that noisy silence.  It was not pleasant.  It was not warm and welcoming.  It was a disconnect from the real world, it was alien and terribly sad.  It was a silence of electronic, manmade clutter.  Not the silence of quietly being.  It is as if people are losing the art of quiet, of being at ease with themselves, enjoying their own conversation, the quiet companionship of being with other people.  We have become the slave of a different god.
People view silence with suspicion and they pity a person sitting alone by him or herself enjoying a quiet cup of coffee and looking out at the waves rolling onto the beach.  Quiet, introspective people threaten our theories about happiness.  Surely a quiet person has to have some or other deep rooted problem, must be totally boring or at the very least on the brink of suicide!
Most people today have forgotten the importance of silence, they do not understand silence.  Yet silence is an essential part in our well being.  The people of the east have long ago realized the importance of being still, to be quiet.  Through daily meditation they enter the realm of silence and the portals of the devine. We need silence to think clearly and to be able to hear our own innermost thoughts.  It is in silence that we have the chance to listen to the universe and to hear the whisper of God’s voice.  When we are surrounded by silence, drenched in it, then we can begin to truly hear again, to listen.  Our spirit, our soul is crying out to be heard.  God is trying to reach us, communicate with us.  As long as we keep up the sound pollution, we cannot begin to listen, to understand.  Silence is not just empty time, devoid of something.  Silence has presence; it is filled with an energy of its own.  Silence has substance.  Only when we are silent can we hear the spirit's guiding voice.
In the quiet our senses start to become more acute.  When we are not so busy thinking up new words to utter we start hearing better.  The tremble of insecurity in my child's voice, the silent scream of depression, the way fear is disguised in an angry voice.  We also begin to see better, to notice the hidden sadness behind a brave smile.
Maybe it is time to schedule silence into our busy lives.  To consciously spend time away from all external sound, to even switch of our internal dialogue, and just be quiet.  To breathe deep, being completely conscious.  To listen.

I leave you with these words from Psalm 46 : “Be still and know that I am God.”

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