Soon will be gone all the desert
Cities will cover each hill
Today will just be a fond memory
Man walks among us, be still, be still
Man walks among us, be still.”
Noise–do you ever get tired of the noise? It is almost impossible that we can attune our ears to anything not artificially created. Sit for a moment and try to turn off the sounds–just listen. Can you hear anything that is not man-made?
Where can a person find true quietness? Gordon Hempton states, “If a quiet place is one where you can listen for 15 minutes in daylight hours without hearing a human-created sound, there are no quiet places left in Europe. There are none east of the Mississippi River. And in the American West? Maybe 12.” What is quietness/silence? Silence is not the absence of noise. “Silence is the presence of everything, undisturbed.” (Hempton) True silence is in one sense actually loud.
Listening, or even trying to listen to the sounds of nature is more likely to be a rare gift. The world is bombarded by artificial sounds. I like what Margaret Manning Shull wrote, “Paying attention in silence is not always as benevolent or delightful as hearing the natural sounds around us. Keeping silence intentionally reminds us of our smallness in a vast universe, and brings to light many of our deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings. When we clear our ears of external noise, we hear our own thoughts. Many thoughts that arise in silent spaces are ugly, distorted, and grave. Listening in silence exposes our pretense and self-righteousness, our falsehoods, hypocrisy and self-importance. There is little room to hide. We are left with ourselves in all our brokenness.”
Silence forces us to listen to the voice of our heart. Silence, if we listen, will sound forth the voice of the Holy Spirit. Are we afraid of what we might hear? One thing about listening in silence, it “provides an opportunity for reorganization and evaluation. It provides the opportunity for renewal.” (Shull) It is important that we learn to pay attention in the silence; that place where we can meet with God. Is it any wonder that so many of the Lord’s prophets were sent to a wilderness place where they could be in silence?
Sometimes, even when we get a chance to be in silence and in the presence of God, we make too much noise with our owns sounds. Our prayers often can be extremely loud and without saying anything. It is in silence that we can listen and attune our hearts to the voice of God. In fact, when we get in the presence of the holiness of God, what can come out of our mouths? It is important that we withdraw at times to a place of quietness. Jesus Himself, understood the value of silence going to a place where He could hear His Father’s voice rather than the noise around Him.
“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”
–Habakkuk 2:20 (NASB)