Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finding Quiet in the Noise

I had forgotten how noisy the city is . . . forgotten how it seems to hum even in the darkness of the night.  There is constant travel fourteen floors down from my hotel room on the streets . . . horns blaring . . . sirens wailing . . . screeching tires . . .whistles blowing.  The noise is constant like a heartbeat for the city.  Then add to this base line hundreds of thousands of people moving up and down the street . . . talking . . . yelling . . . screaming . . . crying . . . and, singing.  It is kind of like a melody line in music playing over the sound of traffic.  There is noise everywhere . . . constant noise.

Yeah, I had forgotten how noisy the city is; but, what should one expect when they shove a couple of million people into Philadelphia proper . . . more than double the whole population of Montana spread out over the 147,046 square miles that makes it a state. I think it gets noisy whenever two or three people gather . . . imagine the noise when a couple of million are milling around.  It gets noisy.

Since being in Philadelphia I have noticed that I do not hear as well . . . I have a hard time hearing . . . especially when I a outside.  Now, I know it is true that the wife thinks that I have a hearing loss . . . something more than a husband's selective hearing loss . . . especially when I get into crowds.  I know that whenever I am in a group of people I have to lean in close to hear what they are saying . . . but since being in Philadelphia I have turned to lip read (which I am terrible at).  I just don't hear well and I do not think that the noise is helping.

I wonder how the people who live here put up with the noise.

I guess I never realized how quiet Montana is . . . or at least the part where the Keener Homestead is . . . or the parts where I am in the mountains.  In the quiet of where I live I can hear the birds sing . . . I can hear the geese honk and the the Sandhill Cranes cooing as they fly over.  In the night I can hear the cows mooing and the coyotes howling.  I can hear the Rock Creek rushing down its banks.  I can hear the wind rustle through the trees.  I can hear the breeze move through the tall grass.  I can hear the snort of a moose . . . the bounding of deer.  It is amazing how much of God's natural presence one can hear in the quiet . . .

. . . but, here, in Philadelphia, I have not heard the birds sing.  I have not even heard a dog bark.  From the fourteenth floor of the hotel I have barely heard the wind over the traffic from the street below.  This is a noisy place.

I don't know about anyone else, but I know that noise makes me irritable if I am in it for too long.  Makes me grumpy.  I need quiet in my life.  I think the people in the hotel understand the noise of their city.  In my room is a little note on the desk stating: "For added tranquility, please feel free to use the complimentary earplugs located in the nightstand drawer."  Sure enough . . . there are two sets of earplugs in there.  I don't think I need them for sleeping, but I am thinking about using them for walking around the streets of Philadelphia.  Research shows that noise makes children and adults more aggressive . . . Philadelphia has a fairly high rate of crime and violence . . . maybe, they should be passing out earplugs on the street.

Noise changes a person.  I can feel it and I have only been here for a little over twenty-four hours.  I cannot even imagine what living here would do to me . . . I'd become a crazed pastor (well, more crazed than I am now).  I could not live without the quiet.  I feel sad for all of these folks.  Sad that they cannot find the quiet in the noise.

I like to paraphrase the part in the Bible that tells us to be still and know God.  I like to think that in that stillness there is also quietness . . . quietness because we need to hear God . . . in the birds singing, the wind blowing, the breeze moving through the grass.  In all of this noise, where is the quiet?

If I am going to be honest, then I have to admit--like everyone else, that there is noise in my life that drowns the voice of God.  These days in Philadelphia only serve as a reminder of that fact.  The noise may not be caused by traffic or people . . . but it is still there drowning out the needed silence.  The noise of problems in my life . . . the noise of relationships between family, friends, co-workers, and many others . . . the noise of the life happening around me that touches me directly and indirectly . . . the noise of loneliness, sadness, anger, hate . . . there is noise in my life.  At times it gets pretty noisy in that rock garden between my ears . . . and, the reaction is the same.  I get irritable and grumpy . . . I get aggressive . . . and, I get lost.  Lost from who God created me to be . . . and, lost from God.

Yet, I know that there is a quiet place within all of us.  A place where there is no noise.  A place where the presence of God can be heard.  And, I know that it does not matter where I am . . . in the noise of Philadelphia or the quietness of a mountain meadow in Montana . . . that quiet place exists and waits for me.  I know that I just need to be still . . . to be quiet . . . and, listen.  God's voice will find me in the quiet.  I just have to keep reminding myself . . . be still . . . be quiet . . . even in the noise God is there.

With such knowledge I think I can make it.  The crazed preacher is in retreat . . .

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