I am not, nor have ever been described as, a quiet person. In fact, if I am quiet people will almost always ask what is wrong, or if I am feeling okay. What I have noticed recently is that I find myself not overly enjoying being in noisy environments. It probably has something to do with my ageing body and my slowly diminishing capacity to hear as well as I used to, but I am becoming more and more peaceful with being in quiet spaces.
With the blessing of being located so close to the mighty Murray River I have found it quite refreshing to be able to sit on the river banks for some reflective time. I am okay with just sitting in the silence of the bush setting, away from all the noise of our modern day life, except silence is not what it is.
On a recent opportunity to retreat, I took the time to sit and listen to the silence and this is a list of what I heard in the space of 10 minutes one morning: a cacophony of birdsong, some quite close, some distant, including magpies, galahs, kookaburras, crows and a seagull; a blowfly buzzing past; a ‘tinnie’ on the river; laughter and conversation from those in that boat; a chainsaw in the distance; wind blowing in the trees; the slapping of the paddle steamer oars as it heads down the river; someone using a hammer; the camera shutter; waves reaching the river bank caused by the paddle steamer; cars in the distance; a mobile phone ringtone.
When I took the time to listen I discovered that there was a huge multitude of sounds to hear in what I had perceived to be a peaceful environment. The thing is, life is too loud for me to hear the more subtle and gentle rhythms of the natural world, so if I deliberately quieten my soul I can be much more aware of the whispers around me, so much so that they appear to be shouts.
Imagine how much more difficult it is for the soft voice of God to penetrate the noise of life, especially the noise I bring in to the world myself. How am I able to focus on His gentle communication when everything else is so loud and can drown Him out? Scheduling in regular opportunities to settle the heart and choose to listen for Him is something that I need to be disciplined in otherwise I risk missing His voice completely.
In today’s chaotic, noisy world I encourage you to carve out the space to be reflective enough to hear the message God has just for you. It might be just the noise you need to hear.