Friday, February 08, 2013

Noise

I was watching a report this morning which was pointing out what may be obvious to most already; we are a culture that cannot escape noise...or will not.  It seems that even in places where there is no noise, we find creative ways to expose ourselves to it anyway.  I am old enough and private enough to not only remember the days, but to long for a return to the days when you could not be reached by phone unless you were in your own home next to a phone permanently attached to a wire.  You could not be reached in the car.  You could not be reached at the store.  You could not be reached during a quiet walk in the woods.  We are a culture of walking headphones.  I write this while Pandora is streaming through my own set.
In the community of faith that I lead, we recently had a discussion that centered around the profound effects of the ministry of Jesus, marked by both the proximity and presence that placed God himself directly into the neighborhood of humanity.  In theological terms we know this as the "Incarnation".  It is, in my opinion, the central defining difference between the faith that I hold, and all the others that humanity may hold to.  It is in reality, divine wisdom.  It changed humanity.  It changed and continues to change the trajectory of the world.   The advancement of our culture and the rising genius of the technological age is rapidly negating the ability for our humanity to experience presence any longer.  We desperately try to fill the void and the miles with cell coverage, twitter and Facebook .  We have anesthetized ourselves into believing that daycare and, better yet, nannies can fill a void in the lives of our children.  We create mobile movie theaters in our cars rather than interacting with the epic story passing us by at 60.  When we are old enough, we grab the headphones and the iPod and wander out, in proximity, without any desire or knowledge in how to engage presence.  Then as we get older, we rage against the machine which created "these kids nowadays", when, if we just took time to quiet ourselves, we would realize it was our doing...or at least our contribution.
The good news is this;  the one who created us for proximity and presence, who modeled it for us, still guides and speaks through it.  He never left, we just turned up the volume of everything else.  In the language of the oldest parts of the Book of Books, we know that the voice of God is only audible in the stillness.  It's known as the "still small voice" of God.  He's not all thunder and lightning.  He is whispers and prayers.  I know this to be true, not simply because the "bible tells me so" but also because I have experienced it, on more than one occasion.  I am embarrassed, as a pastoral artist, to admit that it doesn't happen more often, but too often I am the one doing the talking.  Too many opportunities for quiet are averted by headphones and pathetic karaoke in the car.
So after all this, here's the thing...I don't hear from God and people don't hear God in me simply because I tend to not be present...in either relationship.  If I can offer a prayer for you, today it would be this...take your headphones out.  Be still, be present.  Amen

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