Have you become too familiar with the noise?
We travel regularly for our work. We’re in hotels several times a year and we hope our room will have an a/c we can set where the fan continues to whir. We’ve had rooms where its constant hum lulls us to sleep only to awaken in the middle of the night to harsh silence. It seems an odd contradiction but you know what I mean. It can be hard to sleep in an unfamiliar place when it’s too quiet.
It’s near the mid year mark and true to form, I’d forgotten my one little word. The one word I was sure God whispered to me as the calendar was saying goodbye to last year – Peace. My word for the year, not the month. This word appeared at the busiest time of this year for us.
We traveled a lot last month. Hustle.
We received word of two more fatal overdoses of former residents. Pain.
We waited for word of annual transfers in our department. Anxiety.
Holy Week leading up to Easter meant more planning and organizing and people and more hustle and doing and showing up and giving.
Last weekend we were at an annual retreat for our recovery community in Florida. Over 400 people gathered in a peaceful setting in rural North Florida. A place without street lights allowing the stars to beam bright in the night sky. A place where horses grazed quietly behind the softball field surrounded by cheering fans. The noise of cheers, laughs, singing, making new friends, this noise ushers peace. Yet, amid this peaceful time, there were hurt feelings, misunderstandings, disagreements. Peace is often up against unrest and the tension pulls at us and threatens to displace the peace.
Few of us have peaceful lives. Conflict, differences, lies, anger, disappointment…all of these bring noise into our lives. Sometimes, like the a/c in our hotel room, we are so familiar with the hum it’s become white noise, in the background, barely noticed until we rediscover quiet.
That’s how I felt when I came across my journal and saw the word again. The white noise has been droning on in an imitation of comfort, an imitation of peace. I’m afraid we’ve accepted imitations for so long we can barely recognize what is real.
Real peace isn’t drowned out by life’s noise.
Real peace is present in disappointment and hurt.
In the middle of the raging storm, Jesus was asleep on the boat. His disciples were frantic, as I would be. They were fishermen. They knew boats and storms and understood this was bad. What they didn’t understand was how Jesus could sleep through it. Peace. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, spoke to the winds and said: “Peace, be still”.
I’m afraid, at times, it’s me who keeps stirring the winds that blow around me. I speak before I think. I rush. I react rather than respond.
I’m hearing the noise and not his voice. I can block out children across from me on an airplane or the hum of traffic over our backyard fence. I can block out some of the physical noise but maybe I’m also blocking out that inner voice calling me to peace.