When It’s Not Quite So Quiet

It’s been a very loud week.

Something happened on the way to the 4th of July. Starting last Friday night, there have been fireworks shows at some municipality or event every night, all the way through Independence Day on Wednesday. And that’s not to mention the myriad of fireworks that were set off nightly in neighborhoods all around, to the dismay of many a pet and sleepy soul.

We went to one fireworks show on Sunday night, but didn’t have the energy to attend any of the others all around us the next several nights. No doubt, from the social media posts I saw from our church family alone, there were no shortage of crowds at any of the shows, whether it be Thunder on the Mountain, American Village, Oak Mountain, Regions Field, or just about every city in Shelby County.

I was surprised and impressed by all of the amateur fireworks in my own neighborhood, especially on the night of the 4th. The more red-glaring rockets I saw and heard, the more I thought, “Well, there goes several days worth of groceries.” Which is probably a pretty good indication that I am getting old and curmudgeonly. All in all, it was a bright and colorful–and very loud–celebration of our nation’s 242nd birthday, well into the night.

Which all leads in the aftermath to a desire for a little peace and quiet. And on that note, I came across a weird news item this week. It seems that an unusual song has emerged next to the hottest new albums and multi-platinum artists on iTunes’ Top 50 charts. The track, which costs 99 cents to download, is titled A a a a a Very Good Song, and includes almost ten full minutes of complete silence. Not a single musical instrument, voice, or sound of any kind can be heard. (Which many would consider to be quite an improvement on the old Simon & Garfunkel song, “Sound of Silence.”)

My first question was, why are people paying money for silence? Perhaps in our world where we’re constantly bombarded with media noise on every side, people are just longing for some moments of silence. Some suggest that the main buyers of the “song” might be owners of a certain model of car that automatically plays music from a Bluetooth-connected mobile phone when first turned on. Most cars carrying this feature auto-select the first song alphabetically whether you want it to or not, which would explain the weird song title. “A a a a a Very Good Song” allows drivers to avoid any unwanted music playing by beginning their drive with up to ten minutes of complete silence.

It’s a pretty sad day when you have to purchase a few moments of quiet time. As most of you would guess, I’m too cheap to pay for it myself, but I do understand it. We all need some quiet moments every now and then, if only for our minds and souls to reboot. That’s why Scripture is full of admonitions for us to rest our bodies and souls–and ears–and to sit quietly before the Lord.

“Be still, and know that I am God,” He told us in Psalm 46. “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” Jesus told His disciples in Mark 6. And of course there’s that whole Sabbath commandment which is often neglected in our noisy, busy world, where we are called to pull away, recharge and refresh our souls in the Lord.

Here’s a challenge for us all, especially in the midst of our not quite so quiet surroundings: let’s make an effort to set aside some time every day to be still, wind down, sit back, and be quiet, so that we can hear the still, small voice of our Lord. You just might be surprised what you can hear with the volume turned down.