Tuesday, September 29, 2009

background noise?

"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice" (1 Kings 11-12).

(yes, it's the king james version. because that's how i roll.)

i hate very few things more (perhaps that's an exaggeration, but it's genetic, don't you know) than discovering upon my arrival at the gym that my ipod battery is dead. i am nearly incapable of exercising without a heavy beat driving my steps.

last night, i plugged my headphones into the elliptical so i could listen to the news on the overhead television in an attempt to compensate for my ipod-less-ness. this solution, i hardly need tell you, did not do the trick. that was the longest two and a half miles i've run (walked? jogged? ellipticall-ed?) in a long time.

which got me thinking about soundtracks and the sounds--music and otherwise--that fill my head. i've often blogged about the soundtracks for my travels around town (like here and here and here). but i haven't really thought all that much about what i'm listening to all day. maybe the sermon in church this past weekend got me thinking, too; our pastor preached about shame and at one point mentioned how many times more difficult it is to speak words that build someone up than words that break them down. what is being spoken to, sung to me over the course of my day? and am i listening? what am i internalizing? there's a reason, after all, that i listen to different music when luke is in the car with me than when i'm alone: i'm careful what he hears, knowing what a sponge his little mind is. but beyond music with luke or otherwise, what am i absorbing?

in my office this morning, thanks to my chris rice channel on pandora (oh, how i love pandora), i heard these lyrics (sung by someone other than chris rice, though i don't know who):

what heights of love
what depths of peace
when fears are stilled
when strivings cease

when strivings cease: peace. why don't i hear that more often? does any of us hear that?

too often, our strivings are rewarded with progress and productivity (good american values, of course, and if you know me, you know i'm all about productivity), but even more so with encouragement and validation. if what earns us words of affirmation--words that build us up--is striving, then learn to strive we will. but what if learning to be quiet and still were rewarded? what if listening and patience were valued?

oh, right: they are.

i almost forgot the still small voice. as i fill my head--with conversation, music, reading, words, sounds, noise--i am reminded that there is One who values and rewards my stillness above all. my quiet listening. my patient seeking.

a friend encouraged me a few weeks ago to go for a walk alone every day. no friend, no ipod, no cell phone. just to be quiet, to listen and think and hear and pray and be. i haven't done it once. i've walked plenty...in the company of friends, with music, and always with my phone. what is it that keeps me from that quiet walk alone? not enough time? sure. but i make plenty of space in my life for lots of other things, and with the perfect trail right behind my house and fantastic fall weather upon us, that's hardly an excuse. striving? there's so much i want to get done, so much that gives me a tangible reward or earns me affirmation and encouragement right here, right now. fear? if i'm quiet, and i listen, and i open my heart to the still small voice, what will i hear? what will i think? what will i say?

because if i don't keep up the background noise that i have chosen, i might hear something i don't expect. something that i didn't choose. and when i'm honest, i know that i am loathe to cede that control.


Patricia Berman said...

Early Sunday morning walks. No other dog walkers, no one but birds and deer and turkeys and foxes and me. And VERY quiet...unless you really listen....my favorite day to walk.

Daniele said...

Now that sounds like a Sabbath! If only...