Faith Column: Different sounds of silence
Trade the sound of cars for something relaxing
Earlier this year I was stuck at school and fighting off a cold. In my sore throat induced misery I pulled out a lozenge to ease my suffering. What did I find when I dug out my trusty Halls? A motivational quote written on the wrapper, “Get back in there champ!”
My mental response to the lozenge wrapper was, “Shut up, Halls, I want a nap.” (To appreciate my quirky inspiration that stems from wrappers, see my earlier entry “God’s Anatomy”).
The past few weeks it seems that everyone is getting sick. All my coworkers, half of my roommates and the majority of the students in my program are all ill. Mount Royal is even running their flu shot clinics again!
What I’ve learned lately is that the majority of illness is caused by stress, which I don’t think that is really shocking news to anyone. You can feel when your body starts getting tired out, and it always seems to be at the most stressful times (like midterm season). Your brain is in a constant state of active thought as you are running facts and figures through it. There is a never-ending to-do list at your fingertips with all the other projects underway this time of year.
Chances are you’ve got some sort of music pumping into your ears while you try and drown out all the other noise that is surrounding you: people talking, lights buzzing, dishwasher sloshing, sirens squealing. My head hurts just thinking about it (but maybe that’s because I’m sick).
When do you ever get rest? Is there ever really a time and place where the noise stops? I wonder if it’s even possible to experience true silence, especially in a big city like Calgary. If by some miracle you find a little haven in this big city that is actually quiet, can you turn off the noise inside your head?
Let me tell you that faith, in its many forms, loves to talk about the subject of rest. Eastern religions often involve some sort of meditation or clearing of the mind while Western religions are huge on Sabbath keeping. Now, I can write entire academic papers on the concept of Sabbath, but the origin of the word sums it up just fine. The concept of Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word “Shabbat” which literally translated means “rest” or “cessation” (to cease what you are doing).
There’s this awesome verse in the bible where Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” He says this in response to this super holier-than-thou guy who is giving him grief because his disciples are picking some grain to eat on the day of rest. This occurs right before Jesus goes and gives someone a whole new hand on the day of rest as well. It’s this part of the book of Mark where people start plotting to kill Him (seriously, Jesus was a rebel).
Now all this talk about ceasing work and Jesus doing work might seem contradictory, but it actually paints the perfect picture of rest. Rest is ceasing from that which burdens you and alternatively taking up that which renews you. Instead of aiming for complete silence (which can be nice, but can also be unsettling), trade noises.
For me it means trading the sound of cars on a busy street for crickets beside a quiet lake. I trade the clacking of computer keys for the laughter of a friend over coffee. I trade the buzz that coffee gives me on a school day for a solid nap. I ignored my Halls wrapper completely. There need to be some days where you don’t “get back in there”. Time needs to be set aside for you to get out of “there” – wherever your stressful “there” is – and get into something that renews your spirit instead.