“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'” (Mark 6:31)
Listen! Hear that? Exactly, it’s nothing. This is precisely the sound I have been waiting four months to hear.
Today, my three teenage daughters bustled themselves out the door and off to school for the first time after Sydney’s excruciatingly long lockdown.
So, for the first time in months, my house is … silent.
Of course, silence is not actually silence. I can hear birdsong and wind chimes outside, faint engine noises and dogs barking.
But it’s almost silence – quiet enough to hear my own breath, ringing in my ears, perhaps even my heartbeat.
The irony is, as I settle down to work, the silence is actually making it harder for me to concentrate. I feel somewhat unnerved by the emptiness of the thinly-clad sound waves surrounding me.
I have come to realise that I am, in fact, a noise addict.
It’s not just living with a family of five in lockdown that has made me so accustomed to the continuous onslaught of noise. I have come to realise that I am, in fact, a noise addict.
Even prior to lockdown, I spent most of my days with headphones shoved in my ears, dispersing a constant stream of blather. When one podcast ends, I start another. When one playlist gets dull, I hit play on a different one.
Then the kids get home from school and my ears succumb to updates, bickering, cajoling and finally goodnights, during which time the TV also vies for my attention by hurling out images alongside its noise.
I became aware of my noise addiction after several years of listening to a Bible devotional. At the end of each day’s Bible reading, I sometimes couldn’t remember a single word from the passage. God’s word had become just another stream of sound to my weary ears.
During lockdown, I switched to a different Bible devotional, which has helped my ‘quiet times’ a lot, but I’m still battling with my noise addiction.
Lately, I have often felt God calling me to switch off my device, unplug my headphones and get rid of the background noise. Just like he called the disciples in Mark 6, I can feel him saying to me: “Come with me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.” So I’m trying to do this more and more, although embracing today’s post-lockdown hush has taken this challenge to another level!
While silence isn’t yet a comfortable place for me, I’m praying it will become so. I hope that intentionally seeking quiet will soon help me to think more clearly, be more creative and lend new opportunities for God to refresh and speak to me through his word. I certainly don’t want to miss out on hearing his “still, small voice”.