Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Sound of Silence in the Quiet Place

Silence....we all long for it at times. Throughout our lives, parents, school teachers and older siblings have admonished us to: "Be Quiet" to "Hush" to "Be Still" to "Settle Down" or in some cases, to "Not Speak unless you are Spoken to."

If we were not compliant with those admonitions, the directive would then be to "Go to your Room!" or "You are Grounded" or "No friends over and no phone privileges." Sometimes it would be for a week, a month, throughout the year, or even threatened that it would be for the rest of our lives.

The youth of today would specifically be restricted by having: "No Cell Phone use, No Lap Top, and No Internet, iTouch, iPhone, iPod, iPad I or II, or Smart Phone use." In other words: Stay in, be alone and be separate from the usual social activities with family and or friends.....and by all means, learn something valuable from the experience. "No Face Book, Twittering or anything that involves contact with others." and furthermore, "That means also No Radio, No access to the TV, No watching DVDs, Blue Ray, or other media." In addition, "No use of a VCR (if there is one), and never mind using Dad's music Cassettes or even the 8 Track player. Right, they will get that one.

 The Quiet Place is a Place of Privilege

Be Quiet....and spend some time alone. That was the message that we received, and it continued to be the message, as we grew up. However, it was all too often tied to a form of punitive disciplinary action. Isolation, was one of life's most painful, awful, no-good-very-bad  kinds of punishment.  Strangely enough, years later as adults, we find ourselves longing for times of silence, and it ranks as one of life's top three daily fantasies. Time alone...

On the other side of the spectrum, poets and songwriters have produced countless ballads, poems, have written prose, lyrics for music, plays and or screenplays, on the topic of loneliness: the long term experience of isolation, relational rejection, and abandonment. Often the solution to the dilemma is to fall in love, and find someone to love you back. The myriad number of love songs ever written, could likely circle the earth so many times, that it would look like a gargantuan tangled ball of yarn.

The sad reality is that if we are unable to connect meaningfully with a close friend or a significant other, a painful loneliness sweeps slowly in upon the soul like a misty winter fog, and it can camp there for a very, very long time. The worst part is not in being lonely, it is being forgotten by someone that you could never forget. It is believing the notion that to be alone is life's punishment for being unwanted by another. When being alone is so depressingly painful, we miss the value of being close to the one companion that we will have from birth to death - ourselves.

"What a commentary on civilization, when being alone is being suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, and hide the fact that one practices it - like a secret vice."  ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The Strength of Solitude in The Quiet Place

There is a deeper life lesson to be learned from all of this. It is important in life to discover that there is a profound difference between loneliness, and carefully planned periods of solitude. It is not in the rushing cascade of the river that a beautiful sunset is mirrored, but in the quiet waters of a still lake. There is keen insight in David's Psalm where he poetically penned, 

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside Quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.”  Psalm 23:1-3

Sadly, we all too often find short term more immediate ways to adapt to the stresses of life, and label that as "My Chill Time." 

For many, taking time out for personal contemplation, daily journaling, private reflection, and or spiritual worship, is seen to be impractical, and unrealistic in light of today's frantic pace of life. However, silence speaks when words cannot. We can slowly become conditioned to finding "other things" to keep us calm in the midst of chaos, rather than seek out a Quiet Place to deepen our inner peace and renew our strength in a way that God alone can provide.

Whispers in our Memory in The Quiet Place

It is hard for most people to remember a time when they found themselves in a tranquil Quiet remember that moment, when one is enveloped in a peaceful stillness, and the dissonance of continuous noise had all but disappeared. To discover that no sounds were scratching at the periphery of your thoughts to distract you. It likely didn't last long, but when it happened, you vowed never to forget the sweet sound of silence.

For the one whose world is silenced due to deafness, quietness became the unwelcomed guest who stopped by without invitation, and refuses to leave. The prison of imposed silence, however it comes to one's life, is not the discovery of the precious essence of quietness, unless it is discovered as a strength rather than a disability. To lose any of the 5 senses is monumental. The reality of the priceless value of cherished times of silence, are only discovered on a very personal and spiritual level, whereby a gentle hush transcends the senses.

The Sounds of Silence in The Quiet Place

Paul Simon, who wrote and sang folk ballads in the 1960's, released the familiar song, "The Sound of Silence." Performing in Greenwich Village, Simon and Garfunkel, relevantly expressed what many people were feeling at that time throughout the world. To many, the lyrics of the song whisper gently from our memory, at just the reminder of it. For some, poignant phrases were mentally etched upon the walls of memory with a tenacity that still remains. Why is that? Was it the profoundness of the song's lyrics, or the timeless melody that embraces the words like a warm blanket, carrying it into our consciousness and memory? Maybe it is both.

Many have pondered questions about the meaning of The Sound of Silence. Whether it was the personal reflection of a dream that Paul Simon had one night:

"Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence."

or a grassroots cry to society to refuse to be led blindly into accepting whatever any political power might dictate to be the standard for social ethics, virtues, or values:

"And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence."

or perhaps it is a challenge to not follow the media as mesmerized children, stumbling after the humanistic worldly Pied Piper to a perilous end.

"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence."

or was it a call to resist media manipulation, and rather listen to the genuine cry of a different way to address real social issues of the day, found etched in Graffiti-esque literature in dark urban subways and tenement halls:

"And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets 
are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"
And whispered in the sounds of silence."

We still cry out today to stop the injustice, tyranny and cruel domination of so many people across the world. We also yearn in our own lives, to stop the noise, the unrelenting stress, and the tyranny of the urgent. Regardless of one's race, color or religion, it rings true for everyone across the 194 countries throughout the known world.

The Irreplaceable Value of The Quiet Place

God whispers to each of us to discover the irreplaceable value of The Quiet Place and guard it as a time to meet with God in the Holy of Holies of undisturbed, and worshipful silence. Instead of, "Hello Darkness my old friend, I come to talk with you again" our prayer becomes, "My dear Heavenly Father, I come to commune with you again." 

There is a Quiet Place and we can each kneel reverently in the blessed hush of God's presence, however, the pathway is only accessible through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 14:1, 6 and 14). 

There was absolutely no other way for any of any of us to have intimate access to a Holy God. None of us could pay the debt of sin's terrible cost, so Jesus paid the debt that He did not owe, because we owed a debt that we could not pay.

The Undeniable Cost of The Quiet Place

As precious drops of His sacrificial sinless blood touched the altar of atonement, The Lamb of God died for every one of us. The veil that separated mankind from God in the Temple in Jerusalem, from true intimate worship with God, was torn asunder. In a Holy flash, the way was made open for all of us. His precious blood was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat of meritorious atonement for our sins, and it continuously opens the pathway to each and every one of us, but we must embrace Him as our Lord, Savior and King.

There is a Quiet Place.... Find the time and place where you are undisturbed, inaccessible and unhindered by life's distractions, and treasure it as non-negotiable moments that are etched upon your daily schedule with indelible ink.

The Intimate Enjoyment of The Quiet Place

There is a Quiet Place....reach out and seize it, and make it your own. Cherish it as a foundational part of each day of your life. It is your time to walk in the Edenic Garden with your Creator, where you and God enjoy sweet and precious moments together. It must be priceless to Him... for He gave His very life to ensure that nothing could ever separate the two of you again.You just have to reach out to Him, and you will already discover His hand already waiting for yours.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 

   “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8: 31-39

Take a few moments and hear this worshipful rendition of The Quiet Place

"A Quiet Place" by A Cappella


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