This weeks prompt is to write about the sound of silence. Gil wrote a stunning post earlier in the week that I definitely encourage you to check out!
There used to be little that I hated more than the sound of my own existence. As a young adult, background noise was as ever-present as the Lord himself. Sitting in silence required confronting the voices that came from within. The mere thought of sitting in silence intimidated me. What would I find there?
I suspected that it would be a deep hole of despair. So I armed myself with the holy grail of background noise. . . television. Mine was always on. Morning, noon and night. I needn’t be anywhere near it and often had no idea what was on it, but it was always on. In high school, I got into the bad habit of sleeping with it on, so most nights I drifted off to a dreamland serenaded by The Cosby Show reruns.
I was ashamed with myself for a plethora of reasons and by keeping my own thoughts at bay, I managed to avoid dealing with those emotions.
“Silence is the discipline that helps us to go beyond the entertainment quality of our lives. There we can let our sorrows and joys emerge from their hidden place and look us in the face, saying: “Don’t be afraid; you can look at your own journey, its dark and light sides, and discover your way to freedom.” We may find silence in nature, in our own houses, in a church or meditation hall. But wherever we find it we should cherish it. Because it is in silence that we can truly acknowledge who we are and gradually claim ourselves as a gift from God. ” ~ Henri Nouwen “Can You Drink This Cup”
There was no hinge moment that sent me in the direction of embracing all that silence conjures. I supposed after a couple of years in counseling, and having dealt with most of those feelings, that over time silenceville just became a much less scary place.
About this time last year, I cut my cable off. I had never adjusted to using Direct TV and would find myself irritable every time I tried to find a show to watch, so as soon as I got to the point in my contract where I could swallow the penalty, I bit the bullet. I wasn’t spending much time at home at the time, so it made sense just to see how I got along without it before immediately incurring another bill. Since I often encourage homebuyers to cut back on cable expenses, I figured it wasn’t a bad idea for me to put my money where my mouth was either.
For the first bit it was a bit of a self-esteem boost. I was proud to be the kind of person who didn’t need constant entertainment. But over time I realized exactly how much I missed it! I missed the pop culture bits that I heard around the water cooler at work and I missed the occasional escape of reality. So I re-upped with Comcast just after Christmas and have been proud of what I’ve found.
I’m not even remotely tempted to turn the TV in the pre-dawn hours when I do this little writing thing. I’ve worked around the house on the weekends and not turned it on for hours.
Somewhere along the way I found a balance between the two and learned to embrace moments of silence where I can process all that is going on in my world and have learned to find tremendous value in it.
The last few weeks of being sick, have meant that I’ve had to forgo my 5 a.m. wake up call so that I could get some extra rest in order to be able to make it through the work day, and I have missed it. I recognize the difference on days that don’t start with this quiet time of study and reflection. I feel disorganized and messed up all day long.
I love what is emphasized above in the Nouwen quote. In silence, we acknowledge WHO WE ARE and GRADUALLY claim ourselves as a gift from God. To paraphrase: In silence, we humble ourselves and slowly acknowledge what we have to offer this world, faults and all.