Political ads. Music blaring. Advertisements. Phones dinging and ringing with texts, tweets, and emails, and notifications from a hundred different apps.
How do we cut the noise?
The Psalms encourage us to meet God in silence: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
But stillness and silence are in short supply these days, This is important because the noise, the wordiness, the verbosity and constant buzz of our world directly impact our ability to live in peace with God, each other, and ourselves. St. Philotheos of Sinai reflected many centuries ago:
“Nothing is more unsettling than talkativeness and more pernicious than an unbridled tongue, disruptive as it is of the soul’s proper state. For the soul’s chatter destroys what we build each day and scatters what we have laboriously gathered together. What is more disastrous than this ‘uncontrollable evil’ (Jas. 3:8)? The tongue has to be restrained, checked by force and muzzled, so to speak, and made to serve only what is needful. Who can describe all the damage that the tongue does to the soul?” (“Forty Texts on Watchfulness,” Philokalia: Volume III London: Faber & Faber], 17)
On the recommendation of my friend Isaac Hopper, I recently read a great little book for creatives called Manage Your Day-To-Day. One of the chapters dealt with silence, and encouraged creative people (and I would think it beneficial for anyone) to intentionally cultivate silence each day. The benefits in mental and emotional health, creativity, engagement, and clarity – if this chapter is to be believed – are manifold.
We live in an over-connected world, with messages constantly bombarding us. The urgent always demands to be addressed immediately, which puts the critical and the important off to the side. But without silence, we cannot differentiate between them and hear the voice of our own priorities and values.
What if you took 10 minutes to just unplug each morning before the day’s demands come at you? That might be prayer, or meditation, or thinking through the day. Or, perhaps, you could cut five minutes from lunch and just find a quiet corner in which to reset? Increasingly, if we are ever going to experience silence, we will have to intentionally seek it out.
Silence truly is golden, but we spend most of our days courting the din of tin.
But silence is a gift that is free; you don’t have to buy it or earn it, you only have to unplug.
How does your day-to-day routine benefit from silence? Do you find silence difficult or uncomfortable? How can we cultivate more silence in our lives and our childrens’ lives? Leave a comment below!