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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Sanctuary of Silence

“If we’re adding to the noise, turn off this song.”—Switchfoot

Today I was awakened by a thunderous sound that shook the entire house. It was 7am on a beautiful Sabbath morning, when some insensitive prick decided it was a good idea to---well I have no idea what this callous creature was doing, but he was doing it awfully loud. In fact, the deafening, house-shaking sounds have sliced through my peaceful slumber several times the last few months. As luck would have it, this noise tends to happen on weekends—my only time to sleep in.

A little known fact about me: if you want me to remain loving, sweet, and kind, DON’T WAKE ME UP! I am NOT a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. A person would fair far better putting his head into a rabid lions mouth, than interrupting my much loved snooze time. That’s not hyperbole! I am truly the most venomous, livid, intolerable, cantankerous sistah that ever breathed, when someone wakes me up! Today was no exception. And so when this dude’s racket jolted me into the land of the conscious, I put on my jacket and a pair of flip flops, grabbed my glasses, and stormed out of the house. I was going to find this bastard!

The sunlight burned my eyes as they squinted to find this noisemaker. The noise persisted. I looked up and down my street, but no noisemakers. I decided to walk a little. After a few minutes of investigating, I discovered that the sound was not coming from my block, but the next block over! This jackass didn’t even live on my block, but his noise was assaulting my silence. Sometimes, though rarely, I wish homicide were legal. Too tired to walk around the block, I went back to my house enraged.

I use this story to illustrate the importance of quite time. I like to awaken to the melodic symphony of birds chirping, the breeze rustling through the trees, the soothing hum of crickets. Yet in our world full of meaningless distractions, I find I am one of the rare people who appreciates these small treasures. We have high definition television, home entertainment systems that can rival any movie theater, video game consoles attached to 52 inch speakers, stereos systems with the volume capacity to exceed a live rock concert. We have cell phone ring tones that blare out the latest tunes and rip the silence into. We have unnecessary inescapable noise. When was the last time you heard silence. I don’t even think we realize how much we miss it.

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in the ghetto where gunshots, helicopters, car stereos, and sirens assassinated the silence. Peaceful restful sleep in those conditions was a luxury. When I moved to the “burbs” I just knew I would enjoy peace and quite, but then a new enemy reared its noisy head: the lawn mower and all of its accomplices. In my neighborhood it is not uncommon for people to be mowing their lawns at six oclock in the morning. In fact, it’s like a domino effect. It starts out as a single mower. Then, in what I suspect is an effort to keep up with the Joneses, another neighbor will bring out his noisemaker and shatter the silence, than other and another. And this will continue for hours. People around here are very touchy about their precious lawns. My neighbors spend hours making sure every last blade of grass is perfectly manicured. In the wintertime I am bombarded with the sound of snowplows and leaf blowers. The noise rarely stops. It makes me wonder, if our mornings are bustling the madness that is the rat race, and our evenings are spent watching our high definition televisions, and our weekends are spent mowing lawns and maintaining our property appearance, when do we have time for silence?

It has been said that empty barrels make the most noise. Perhaps that is why our world has become so boisterous. There is something missing. Despite our attempts to keep up appearances, we long for something and without it we are empty. We don’t like that longing feeling and so it drives us to make more noise in an attempt to alleviate it. When do we meditate? When do we spend time with friends without the distraction of our entertainment systems or high-speed Internet? And yet we wonder why more and more of our population takes psychotropic medication! Our psyche’s are in overload! We don’t allow them to rest. We don't allow ourselves the privilege to take sanctuary in the solitude of silence.

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