My sister takes the clock off the wall every time she spends the night in our living room.
Days later I find it in the laundry room wrapped up in a blanket or stuffed behind a chair in a wad of t-shirts. She swears it's the loudest clock in the world. I just think her ears are sensitive and she is expecting the clock to disturb her already neurotic sleep patterns. I write her complaints off under the "Melissa is crazy" category.
But this morning as I sat in complete silence eating my Special K with bananas, I realized, that is an awfully loud clock. The refrigerator is pretty noisy too. I mean, it just constantly, constantly hums and sometimes even hisses. And the air conditioner? It's worse than an old motorcycle being cranked up. That thing shakes the whole place before it starts sputtering out its cold love. And then I'm back to hearing that dang clock again. Oh my gosh. This clock hates me. It's trying to talk to me. It ticks at different decibels. It's not even consistent! It might actually know that I am in the room and it's purposely trying to annoy me. I am tempted to take it off the wall in a tormented frenzy. But this means that I am conceding to my sister; that she is right. And although she is not even here for the concession, my pride keeps me from giving in. So I turn on the TV instead. Classical music. Ahhh. The silence is not so deafening anymore. I can eat my cereal. The clock is just a clock.
The idea of silence is so stoic and peaceful.
But the reality of silence is nearly impossible.
I desperately wanted to spend the morning on my couch appreciating the silence. From what I hear, I only have days left to appreciate silence and then my life is flipped upside down, never, ever to be quiet again. Parents put the fear of God in you like that. They assume virgin parents understand that the ensuing noise will be more beautiful than anything they've ever heard; but in an all honesty, sometimes it gets a little frightening to constantly hear, "Your life will never be the same again. Sleep now. And go on dates. And take your final shower in peace." I mean my gosh people, the advice sounds like you are getting us ready for the Apocalypse! I just want one person to shrug their shoulders and lie to me. Nah... it's not that hard. Instead, I leave these little pep-talks feeling a bit dizzy and concerned about my hygiene. What if I never get to bathe again? Or sleep? Poor Ryan, I don't guess we'll be properly married for another 20 years! What if there is never a quiet moment for the next 18 of those? No silence ever again???
So today I endeavored to begin a morning ritual of sitting in silence while I still can. I assumed I would talk to God for a while. Maybe I would worship. I would think. I would just sit and listen to the birds that hover on my porch. Maybe I would even hear Ryan rustle in the sheets and spend a few minutes thinking about him, our marriage, where we have been, and where we are about to go. Maybe the sound of the wind outside might lull me back to sleep. The idea of it all was peaceful and romantic and energizing. Pure silence. For at least an hour or so.
I made it about 4 lousy minutes. 4 minutes into eating my bowl of cereal before the insanity of the silence set in. It was just too quiet.
I recently read a passage in the book, Great with Child, that addressed silence. Debra Rienstra said, "A person has taken root inside of me, but I do not know who this will be. I know nothing about the genetic permutations already thrown together (except whose bodies they come from), nothing about the character of soul this person might be given. When my imagination tries eagerly to fill in the mystery, I curb it. We must not "rush into the silent spots," one of my professors used to say... I do not want to rush into this new person's silence before he or she has a chance to become."
I love it. We must not rush into the silent spots.
I failed miserably this morning.
But don't we all?
My little sister recently told me that God was not talking to her. He was being quiet. And she was not happy about this because she sort of needed some direction in her life. How could He be quiet now? Of all times? A little tacky don't you think?
Sometimes the silence is unbearable. Especially when you are listening for a voice. That waiting, what torment.
In these silent moments I often think about the Old Testament story of Abraham and Sarai. God promised them a child, a gift. Someone who would be their heirs and literally start the royal blood line of Jesus. Abraham was to be the father of all generations to come and this would happen miraculously in his 90's! His wife, who was way passed those baby-bearing years, would have a child.
But it didn't happen. Not right away. And I imagine he felt the pressure. I imagine the silence was unbearable. I imagine each passing day he began to lose heart. Sarai feels the same way and decides she will step into the silence. God was not fulfilling his end of the bargain, so maybe that meant she needed to step up and "fix" the problem. A woman after my own heart! Too quiet? Too long? Well, I'll just fix it myself. She steps into the silence and creates her own solution. She gives her maidservant, Hagaar, to Abraham and says, "Here babe. Get her pregnant. She can give us a son." This plan royally backfired.
At least I am not the first to rush into the silence.
It's so tempting to find some sort of noise to fill the eerie, unknown moments. Answers, solutions, ideas, dreams, emotions, work, even the classical music station on my TV will clearly be better than nothing. I rush to fill the spots the way a kid runs wildly into the toy section at first sight.
But I wonder if those small pockets, those small wrinkles in time are there for a reason? And I wonder what I could learn if I didn't rush to fill the space with noise? I guess I wonder what I am missing?
I'm not derailing my life by turning on the TV while the clock, birds, and air conditioner drive me to insanity. But what might I have heard if I torturously sat through the quiet for just a few more minutes? What would happen in those moments if we didn't rush in and fill them ourselves?
This is my quest for the week. Make it past 4 minutes of silence. Do not rush into the quiet places and spew out noise just for the sake of relieving the silent tension. See what is on the other side. Hear what is on the other side. Be quiet. Be quiet. Be quiet.
I like the noise way too much.