I was getting pretty prolific at this blogging thing. With our big move, somehow the wind was lost that was maneuvering my sail! It’s not that I have less to say; I believe it is that I have become more introspective and quiet. For some of you who know me well, you may very well doubt that assertion. But deep inside of me, I have become more still. Practicing Holy Silence is something more common to in the Eastern side of Christianity. Although in the West, it is practiced within communal living in monasteries and convents, but less so in lives fully engaged in our culture. And I believe that Holy Silence is something we all should work to cultivate more in our personalities, in our families, in our world.
Up here, and because I am so new here, there are fewer social distractions. I can concentrate on the few things in my life that are of primary importance to me – my personal walk with the Lord, my husband’s well being, and the well being and health of my family (these are multifaceted concerns – social, physical, and spiritual). My friends, my true friends, we often allow time and distance to come between our conversations. They know (and I know) I am there for them, should they need me, as they are for me. It is wonderful when you know there are people like that in your life. The need to speak is not necessary every moment.
Once upon a time, my great-grandmother was a nanny to a very wealthy family in England. She had charge of their three of four children (I can’t recall exactly, but I know it was more than two) and they were out on the large estate the family lived on, walking with the horses, my great grandmother leading a horse while two of the children rode it. She told me it was a beautiful day and the birds were chirping, the sun shining, and there was even a gentle breeze to make the day perfect, with a couple of the children running about their feet, gathering flowers. She noticed that the birds stopped singing and several rabbits hopped across their pathway, scampering under the brush. And then she heard this horrible sound. It rattled everything; the ground even seemed to vibrate. The horse reared and shied, and the children toppled onto the ground. She hurriedly gathered the children and they ran for cover under some brush along the many rock walls common to the English countryside, where they huddled in fright. She thought the sky was crashing; the noise was overwhelming and the children were crying. She looked up and overhead was a large dirigible, or motor-driven air balloon, making its way across the countryside. She had never heard anything so loud, or any sound quite like it. She said it changed her life forever. On the heels of that, they got radio. Eventually, there was television. She said the world she knew had changed forever and it changed the way people interacted with one another. She lamented the quiet of her childhood. She told me this story during her last days on this earth, while I was just barely in my teens. It is a story I have never forgotten. I often wonder what she would think of the world we have now.
My grandmother, my great-grandmother’s daughter, and I were very close most of my life. I would often spend time with her and my grandpa, even as a single adult. I enjoyed their company very much. After she was a widow, we saw her a lot. My children shared all they could with her. The two older boys were obsessed with all things Star Wars. They had little characters and play “houses” from the movie, almost like little movie sets. They had Legos galore that were Star Wars themed. My oldest son’s favorite toy back then was this large creature called a “Rancor” that he kept until well into his young adulthood, finally getting rid of it after he was married and in the military. One day, they wanted my grandma to sit down with them and watch the Star Wars movie (Episode 4 back then was considered the first one). They called her “grandma-great” and installed her in a comfy chair, complete with popcorn, and off we were, on a modern-day adventure. My grandma was born in 1903, so Star Wars was pretty far-fetched for her. I think she lasted maybe 10 minutes and was so lost and confused at what she was seeing, she gave up and went to sleep! Afterwards, the boys were so upset she didn’t watch it with them, and we spoke about how much the world had changed since 1903. The things she saw were almost beyond comprehension, in just a lifetime. She saw the invention of so many things we all now take for granted – automobiles, phones, television, space travel; on and on it went. And she also lamented the noisiness of our world.
And in 2013 we are constantly bombarded by noise. We were trying to come up with ways to cut our monthly costs and I floated the idea of loosing the TV cable service and letting go of my iPhone. The protests were almost funny. My youngest son loves my iPhone, but I think it is for the game apps he’s installed on it! As for television, if we are truly honest about it, there is nothing much on it of intrinsic value to our eternity. Sure, it is mind-numbing and the entertainment value is certainly present in some products they provide. I adore Duck Dynasty, I must admit. But I can obtain the show, one season behind, on disc at Walmart! So we are thinking of seriously getting rid of TV, and having some wonderful conversations about it. My older sons had no TV in their lives until their early teen years. We just felt it was not necessary to their development; whereas our youngest son has never known life without TV. It is another source of noise.
We recently got library cards up here and my husband and I love our new library; it feeds our love of reading. We both have about 4 or 5 novels we are working on right now. Our youngest son can be persuaded to read at night, if there is no TV or video-gaming going on with friends around the country. And I am craving the quiet. The more you incorporate quiet into your daily life, the more you seem to want it and need it.
I was chatting with someone today and I commented that occasionally we need those quiet moments to regenerate our minds and souls, and to keep the peace in our homes and families. It is okay to take those mental vacations and often keeping distance from others in our lives is a positive thing for everyone. We seem to share every moment on all sorts of social media these days, when I am beginning to think it is over-kill. I have often felt alone even amongst crowds and I have realized that reaching out to people through the social media outlets is misguided. For me, and for my mental and spiritual health, I am beginning to realize that more solitude, more quiet, more contemplation is what we need, versus more noise in our lives, more chatter, more of a wasting of our time sharing minute details of living that can best be kept to ourselves. I love Elder Thaddeus and have shared what I have gleaned from his words of wisdom as set down in his book, “Our Thoughts Determine our Lives.” He has his own Facebook page! Occasionally the site posts quotes from him and today’s was especially poignant for me:
“Strong faith in a man’s heart both requires and produces prayer, and a prayer life of many years produces love. The goal of our life is nothing other than cleansing our heart to such an extent that it is able to sing with joy. Thus, prayer of the heart leads to joy of the heart. Nothing is difficult for a joyful person, because he has love.”
I believe that love Elder Thaddeus spoke of is more attainable in quiet moments, one after another, communing with God. I do believe more moments in our day spent in pursuit of prayer with God will make this world a better place. There is a saying and it goes something like this, “Unplug and tune out.” (Probably vastly different but it is something like that). The saying basically is encouraging us to get off all this electronic intrusion into our lives and get connected with people, face to face, and with God in prayer. It is refreshing and enlivens our souls, and enables us to re-enter the chaos that is this world of ours, with a deeply peaceful heart. Please know I realize we cannot completely disconnect from this world, as tempting as “going off the grid” may be. I do believe we can all choose, however, to limit the mindless intrusion much of this “noise” is becoming. Finding Holy Silence in our days is finding an oasis with God at the center of it. Praise be to God He is always there, waiting for us to reach out to Him. It is the anchor in my life; it keeps me able to interact and share with others in a positive way. It helps me be able to blog and post my ideas and thoughts, after spending some time in Silence. And it is, for each of us, a matter of choice.