Sunday, August 10, 2014

Silence! Finding God in the Quiet

We've gotten used to noise in our lives-- smartphone, iPod, car stereo, television, video games . . . life feels like a constant barrage of noise. If you're like me, you're starting to wonder where the silence has gone!

I heard one of my favorite Old Testament passages at Mass today (Aug. 10, 2014). The First Reading from 1 Kings 19 tells the story of Elijah, fleeing into the wilderness, and then hiding in a cave on "the mountain of God, Horeb"(1 Kgs. 19:8). While there, the word of God directs him to the mouth of the cave because "the Lord will pass by"(1 Kgs. 19:11). 

You know the rest of the story-- Elijah experiences incredible natural disasters: winds, earthquakes, and fires. But, God is not to be found in any of these. Instead, Elijah recognizes God's presence in the "light, silent sound"(1 Kgs. 19:12, N.A.B.R.E.) In another bible translation, the verse goes "and after the fire a sound of sheer silence"(NRSV). 

Sheer Silence
Whether a parent or teacher, noise seems to be life-- especially with young people around. Home and school are vibrant and loud with laughter, chatter, music, and more. We focus our energy on engaging our kids in activities that will develop them physically, academically, socially, and artistically.

Lately though, I've been trying to bring more silence into the lives of my children. Yes, my kids are seven and two years old, so in the interests of full disclosure, this may have more to do with dad than with them! 

But the truth is, the most powerful experiences of God I've had have happened in utter stillness and silence. Being at peace internally and externally allowed me to hear God's whisper for my life. I want my kids to be prepared to have this same experience of God someday, too.

For that reason, I'm trying to ensure that noise doesn't always rule their lives. Whether it be car rides without turning on the stereo, quiet time during nightly prayers, or moments of reflection before beginning a meal, I'm trying to share with my kids the joy of giving God my quiet, peaceful heart that is waiting and listening to hear His voice. I'm trying to give them age-appropriate experiences of silence.

Have you been thinking about this, too? Do you have other ways you help the children in your life become accustomed to silence? Please share in the comments! 

Photo credit: bernat... via photopin cc