Listening to Silence

*throwback entry from a couple weeks ago*

For the first time this week, I heard it: silence.

An electrical storm had rolled through town, temporarily knocking out the power on my street.  Cocooned in the living room, the very center of my home, silence enveloped me.

At first this silence was unwelcome.  I was in the middle of a movie.  I was wasting time and filling the house with noise to distract myself from the fact that I was procrastinating… and mask the silence that told me I was home alone.

Happily, I remembered my battery operated radio on my desk.  I lit a few candles and switched my radio on.  Inspired, I snapped a picture to add on Instagram.  I even had a caption planned: Thank goodness for old school technology #batteryradio #wherewereyouwhenthelightswentout. 

I went to the kitchen for matches to light more candles. That’s when I stopped and heard the beauty of the silence.  The dishwasher had stopped its clicking, the refrigerator its humming, the ac unit its whirling, and the overhead light its buzzing.  The music straining from my room seemed ugly in comparison.

This realization brought a change of mind, so I stationed myself at the kitchen table and opened my windows.  Now I could hear the breeze whisper through the Spring leaves and the birds chirp a post-storm melody.  Every so often raindrops splattered onto the concrete patio.  This was not noise that obscured the beauty of the silence. Rather, it partnered with the silence to bring forth thoughts of my mind and heart that I had kept hidden and numbed behind the curtain of noise and the urgency of preoccupation.

Then the silenced asked…

  •  Why do you avoid me?
  • Why do you hide me with songs, movies, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest?
  • Can you not be still?
  • Are you afraid of your own heart secrets that I might reveal?
  • Can you not forsake distraction and the approval of others, even in your daydreams, to live in the unseen importance of the here and now?
  • Can you lay aside the mask of noise and be vulnerable?

I can’t help but wonder if silence would ask that of all of us.

Saturday Song: the musician’s mission

Tonight I read this excellent blog post from Desiring God: Preaching Jesus With Our Songs

Here are a few of my favorite thought-provoking quotes:

If Ivan Illich’s words are true, “We live in a world that does not carry within itself the reason for its own existence,” then music must play a significant role in our achieving clarity and inspiration. Music can say to the hardened heart, “There is meaning to your existence! There is purpose behind why you are here!”

We must value and uphold words, sound doctrine, passionate preaching and proclamation, and clear teaching; but the very realities we’re tasked with preaching and teaching are simply too profound, too glorious, and too weighty to remain in the realm of monologue and dialogue. We must sing. These realities are not to be merely analyzed, but they’re to be felt, experienced, enjoyed, and delighted in — all things that music and song serve.

All great beauty opens us up to experience things we otherwise would never experience. It expands the soul. It produces a longing in our hearts for wholeness in a world of brokenness, for something right and ordered in a world of chaos. When we perceive various forms of beauty around us, they have a unique quality of moving us by their beauty toward the glory of our Lord.

Music is an ongoing exercise that, at its best, creates channels for the gospel to illuminate our lives in light of who God is. God gave Moses a song in Deuteronomy 31 so that when the children of Israel went through various trials and troubles, the song would confront them as a testimony to whom their God was. This is true of all great music; it speaks with clarity of the God of beauty behind the music.