If you had repented and waited patiently, you’d have been saved; if you had been quiet and trusted me, you’d have found strength. — Isaiah 30:15 (The Inclusive Bible)
I remembered this verse, in its more traditional form (In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength), as I walked on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn yesterday. The prompt for my memory was this sign (left), an advertisement for Seamless, a food delivery service in New York and Washington, and probably other major markets, too.
BECAUSE QUIET TIME NO LONGER EXISTS . . . could it be true? Do they know something I have missed?
I know it is true in public places. The television blares while I wait for my car to be repaired, and at the airport, always at bars and even in many restaurants. Even when the sound is turned off, the words of the speakers go skipping across the screen. It is hard not to look.
So often when walking in the park or a woods, someone is playing music. Of course, people (and this includes me more than I want to admit) are always on their cell phones. When not on the phone, many watch television at home for hours. Some people get up in the morning with the radio and it plays all day long.
It seems that maybe we are afraid of quiet? Unwilling to allow silence for even a few moments. I am often frustrated in church or other gatherings where the leader invites us to have a moment of silence, and we don’t even get a moment. Before even a real breath, we are told, “Time’s up! On to the next thing.” I think most people are relieved.
Silence, quiet, is challenging of course. We have to sit with ourselves, with our silly thoughts and our scandalous thoughts and what seem like our empty musings.
But how anyone expects to hear the divine, or even wisdom greater than that offered by the media, or how we expect to really hear each other in the deepest sense, without turning off, or at least down, the volume (and the constant video pictures), is a mystery to me.
I wonder if our lack of national cohesion is related to all this noise. Clearly, our leaders do not listen to each other. They just talk past the guy or gal on the other side of the aisle.
There is little wisdom because there is so little quiet. How can we learn from nature if we talk over it all the time? How do we learn from our children when we don’t listen to them, when we actually teach them that listening is not worth the bother (go turn on Sesame Street or something, dear…..don’t bother Daddy right now, please).
I yearn for the strength, the wisdom, that comes from quiet, from waiting for God. I sit for 30 minutes every day, and my great struggle is to be quiet. I don’t speak, of course, but oh my mind always wants to go, flitting from one thing to the next, nursing some obsession, thinking of something I “need” to look up online. But the lack of sound helps, and before the 30 minutes are up, I have achieved some measure of serenity, sanity–not perfect, but better than none at all. I recommend it for everyone.
Now, I am trying to create small patches during my day, a minute or two or even five, where I am quiet again. When I succeed, things are much better. I even discover wisdom and strength.
Imagine that. Old Isaiah was on to something.