One unexpected side effect of our empty nest is that I’ve grown to love silence even more. And, the opposite is true as well, noise bothers me more now. Leaf blowers are the worst. Now it seems wherever I go, leaf blowers show up, attached mostly to men. I’ve had times before where I’ve been in the remotest of places, soaking in silence and a leaf blower shows up. You can’t not notice a leaf blower. They start and stop too. Just when you think it is over, it is not.
Recently I was having coffee with a friend on a Starbucks patio. A leaf blowing man showed up and boy was he thorough. The closer he came to us, the more we had to stop our conversation because it was impossible to hear each other. When he finally finished in our area and went to the side of the building, we laughed and resumed talking, But no, he was not done. He returned to re-work that apparently pesky leafy area yet again. I would put up with thousands of leaves over a leaf blower any day. Shhhhhhh!
The practice of silence is a spiritual discipline. You begin with a bit of silence and then grow it. After a while, your soul will grow to love it, to expand into it, to fill that space. Try it. Sometimes you have to coach yourself through some restlessness and discomfort as you go. My mom often asks me what I watch on tv during the day. I tell her I do not turn it on. She can’t believe it but it is true. Sometimes in the late afternoons, I will play music or a podcast. That’s it. The rest of my day is purposefully filled with silence.
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. writes about silence in My Grandfather’s Blessings, Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us. Not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence….Silence is a place of great power and healing. Silence is God’s lap.
I know I crave silence. I know I can hear God’s whispers, ideas and nudges better in silence. I never thought about carrying it around with me as a place of refuge for someone else.
We are headed toward the holidays which tend to be loud. Commercials and ads scream at us to buy. Decorations are loud. Christmas music can be loud. The chaos in our homes, families and heads can be louder in this season despite what we are wishing would happen.
We are also headed into an election year. Can you imagine all the words that will be said in that year? Can you get your mind around all that will be written or even screamed in anger in the year ahead? Can you imagine all the misinformation that will be clamoring and all the loud feelings we all have about it all? I can barely think about it. It seems so loud.
My soul craves quiet. This morning before anyone else was up at my house I was soaking up silence and peace. I could hear only the fountain on my patio, the fire in the fireplace, my dog breathing quietly beside me and the sound of my pen on paper as I journaled. I noticed it and savored it.
Soothing silence. God’s lap. A refuge for someone I might talk to today. Shhhhh.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor. Sign up for her Inner Circle Top Ten List extra emails at http://www.drcindyryanblog.com/circle. Check out her next speaking events at http://www.drcindyryanblog.com/events. Dr. Ryan is leading three women’s retreats at the beginning of 2020. All are open to guests.