As everyone knows, we got a little snow here in the DC area this weekend. About 30″ worth. I work at home and my kids are homeschooled, so such large amounts of snow don’t really affect our daily routine. But one of the things I love about the snow is the silence it brings. Not only does the snow dampen all surrounding noise, but it also dramatically diminishes the traffic, which leads to more silence.
Yesterday morning I was out early shoveling my driveway and quite enjoying this silence. Then my neighbor came out to shovel his driveway, wearing an ipod. The volume was so loud that I could hear every word of the song he was listening to (and to make matters worse, it was a Duran Duran song. Ugh). It got me to thinking about how noisy our world is today. From ipods to radios to TVs to the Internet, we have a device with us at all times which will push some noise into our ears. And the biggest danger of all this noise is that it drowns out the still, small voice of God.
God is the Lord of all Creation and He is the Alpha and the Omega. With one Word He can create and destroy. Yet He is a low-talker. We can only hear Him if we are silent.
What are some practical ways in which we can make our lives more silent? Here are seven I thought up:
1) Turn off the car radio.
For many of us, the car radio is always in one position: ON. We can’t imagine driving somewhere without listening to either music or talk radio. But in all honesty, is there anything you listen to in the car that is that important? Would not that time in the car be a great time to reflect on life?
2) Get up early.
Too often we get up and are immediately rushing around to get out the door. But what if we got up 15 or 30 minutes before usual and spent that time in silence, perhaps meditating on the Gospel for the day? Early morning is the quietest time of the day, both externally and internally.
3) Abstain from media once a week.
I have mentioned before that I abstain from the Internet once a week. Another thing we can do to bring silence into our lives is to abstain from all media – radio, ipod, TV, Internet – for a day (Sunday being a natural choice). Just spend an entire day with the only noise being other human beings you are in physical contact with. It seems radical, but is it really so hard to comprehend?
4) Turn off the “background” TV.
Many people have a TV in their kitchen or workshop which they have on in the background while they do some other task, such as preparing dinner or working on a project. However, one of the best times to focus your thoughts is when you are active with monotonous work. This is the tried and true method of monks, and it can work for those outside the monastery as well.
5) Take a hike.
Something I only discovered a few years ago is the silence of nature. Going on a hike in the woods – sans ipod – is a wonderful way to clear your head of the noise of the modern world.
6) Go on a retreat.
Every Christian should go on retreat on a regular basis. In the Catholic tradition, retreat usually means “silent retreat”. I have found that when I go on retreat it takes me a whole evening just to “detox” from the pace and noise of the world. But once I do, I am able to more clearly hear the voice of the Lord in my life.
7) Pray the rosary.
Really, any prayer will do, but praying the rosary is a particularly “silent” prayer. I have found nothing that is better for focusing my thoughts and allowing me to listen for the voice of the Lord.
Whatever you choose to do, try to find time every day for silence, for it is then that you are most likely to hear the most wondrous noise of all: the voice of the Lord.