With November comes the flurry, then the blizzard, of “holiday” exhortations: Go more, buy more, do more. At first, there are little wisps of messages, soft, light, so gentle I barely notice. Then, the storm whips into a frenzy. Soon, it’s swirling around me, making me dizzy, robbing my peace. It’s not, of course, only the end-of-year holidays that spin crazy into my life; it’s just that the holidays spin more.
It’s early November. I have a strategy and my strategy is for silence. I’m laying down the rails right now, steady sturdy tracks upon which this new habit will roll. It will be in place before the first crazy flake falls. This year, I refuse to be caught in the swirl. He will come to me in the silence. I will be certain to establish and to guard that silence vigilantly.
Our lives have become increasingly noisy. Have you noticed that? Smartphones go with us wherever we go. We’ve given permission to employers and clients and even perfect strangers to jump right up through our pockets and jangle us into their worlds. They intrude, interrupt, make noise. And we let them.
We take our music wherever we go, earbuds providing a soundtrack to our lives. With the flip of a switch, we can find ourselves in a conversation with dozens of people at once. We can share pictures, menus, and every random thought and opinion. Remember when there were only three channels on the television? Sometimes, there was nothing good on TV. So off you went to do something else, often something quiet. Now, endless channels, always something to watch. It’s noise, noise, noise. And I feel my inner Grinch rising.
God comes to us in the silence, but we increasingly are becoming a people who are afraid to be still and quiet. We can’t even be alone with our own thoughts. Next time you have to wait in a grocery line or even a line of traffic at a red light, notice how many people automatically whip out their phones. True, they aren’t making noise, but they aren’t alone with their thoughts, either. They are engaging the noise of the world. There is noise in their heads.
A friend reminded me of a time when we felt a little guilty reading a book while nursing a baby. We thought maybe that was distracted nursing. Now, moms in rocking chairs are scrolling Facebook and Instagram, illuminating the dark nights with the glare of a backlit screen. I know this, because they’re posting pictures of it. And sure, endless hours in a rocking chair can come to feel monotonous and lonely. But a few hours in a rocking chair can be a very good thing. Those are your moments to pray, Mama. Your moments to dream, to think big thoughts, or just to close your eyes and doze. I promise you will grow in those moments because God Himself will come to you in the dark and the silence and the stillness of your soul.
Silence isn’t only for nursing mothers. When was the last time you commuted without the radio on? Can you sit in the dark parking lot for the last 15 minutes of soccer practice and just watch them play without checking your phone? And really, there is nothing so sweet as the end-of-the-day silence when a restless little boy needs someone to snuggle him to sleep. Go seek your silent moments.
We look forward to the joyful season of waiting and preparing for the birth of our Savior. We invite the outdoor chill and light a fire on our hearths. We welcome the coming of the season. How shall we welcome the coming? How can we prepare our hearts for Him?
Perhaps we clear some space. We push away some of those noisy things that compete for our attention and we hush the incessant barrage of messages from out there. Together, we endeavor to bring quiet to our homes and so, to our hearts. He comes to us in the silence. Can you hear Him?