“I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
There is a lot of noise in the world. A lot. There is noise at home, at work, inside, outside, and everywhere. There is noise in the media, in stores, churches, schools, even libraries. Everywhere I go, I feel almost assaulted by the verbal and visual onslaught that the world throws at me. The noise sounds like this:
· Buy me! Then you will be happy!
· Turn on the television!
· Play this video game!
· Get angry. The conservatives/liberals/moderates are wrong!
· Join the fight!
· The world as we know it is coming to an end!
· Traditional values are gone!
There seems to be little time for contemplation, reflection, or gratitude. We seem to be a society of doing and not being. This is not an original idea. Ann Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles Lindbergh, wrote about this in Gifts from the Sea. Even in the Bible, Isaiah writes,
For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there." Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"-- but they would not listen. 13 So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there-- so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured.
It’s as if we can’t stop. We don’t know how. What is it we’re looking for? What do want in all our busyness, noise, and activity? I can’t blame outside forces. Obviously, even without my ADHD, I am guilty of this, too. But I’ve been fortunate to learn that there is something else. I learned this lesson in a very surprising way.
One weekend I was at a college-age Christian retreat. I was known as the group clown and I was easily able to make others laugh. I relished that role and played it to the hilt. Then in the middle of the weekend, on Saturday afternoon, I happened to wander alone into the campground chapel. I sat down and was suddenly and unexpectedly filled with a sense of peace and inner silence. It was almost overwhelming. There also seemed to be complete silence around me. I knew my friends were nearby, only a few yards away, but there was complete silence, as if nothing else existed, but God, the chapel, and me. I’m not sure, but I think God was whispering, “You don’t have to be funny all the time. You don’t have to be ‘on.’ You don’t have to do. You don’t have to talk. You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to win acceptance. You can just be. Just be. Just sit here with Me.”
That was a long time ago. Though I never shared this experience with anyone, it affected me deeply. Unfortunately, the weekend ended and I soon went back to my frenetic busyness, working hard to please others and get things done. Then I met my Muse.
I am who I am. Who I am is multi-faceted. I’m extroverted and funny. I love attention and I love to be in front of an audience. But I also love, and increasingly need, silence, contemplation, and the company of my Muse. I don’t need things, activities, or even goals. Sometimes I just need to be. My Muse knew this and that’s why she wanted me to write – so I could fully accept and nurture this part of myself.
I don’t think it’s an accident that my car and garage are clean now and have stayed that way for days. I am putting my life in order and I think I am finally keeping it that way. This is not a self-congratulatory pat on the back. I’m not bragging, but simply observing the changes in my life. I am becoming a more complete and less needy person. I am becoming more inwardly quiet. The inner silence in me is directing my activities, rather than the loud, frightened child.
When I say, “becoming,” I use the present progressive tense intentionally. I have not arrived. I am becoming. I will always be in a state of becoming. But I am definitely not the man I was at this time last year, or even last month. More accurately, I was not the fully the man I really am. Now I am becoming him…quietly.