I never realized before that there is no silence in my world. Yes, I know I’m a mom, so yes there is a lot of noise. But it’s more than that. I had given up even trying to find some semblance of silence. Some of it was of my own doing. Putting on the TV or the music. At first, it was a way to help create my own version of silence, to drown out the noise of the outside world. But soon I became dependent on having something going on. Because I couldn’t quiet my thoughts, so I redirected and distracted my mind instead.
But as I began to deliberately pursue silence and solitude, I became so much more accurately aware of the loudness of my existence. While we no longer live in the heart of the city, the street in front of our home becomes busy during certain times of day, in certain parts of the house, the sound of traffic rushes by, not regular enough to be a white noise substitute. Sounds of random construction vehicles and the distance siren of the nearby fire department are barely noticeable most of the time, but suddenly I became very aware of these outside distractions. They felt intrusive and I found myself irritated that the anonymous outside world would dare disrupt me with it’s noise.
I would try to take a shower, thinking maybe I could meet God there, but instead the children banged on the door and called out to me the whole time. Then when I situated them in front of the TV I could hear the sound of their fighting, and soon another was at the door to request assistance finding the desired movie. (This from a seven year old who figured out how to use Netflix when she was three). It felt like all the forces of evil were marshaled against me, determined not to let me experience silence. Then I realized, that is exactly what was going on.
“In silence there is the potential for each of us to ‘know that I m God’ with such certainty that the competing powers of evil and sin and the ego-self can no longer hold us in their grip. All the forces of evil band together to prevent our knowing God in this way, because it brings to an end the dominion of those powers in our lives.”
Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence – Ruth Haley Barton
Hell will throw everything it has at me to keep me from engaging God. So for now, I’m trying to avoid getting angry every time I’m distracted or interrupted and my senses are assaulted. I’ll just try again later. I have far from figured this out. I am seriously considering investing in good quality noise canceling headphones. Not so I can shut out everything else, though that helps, but so I can keep the distractions at bay long enough to hear the voice of my Father. I have to believe that eventually I will learn to create quiet within, without needing external silence.