Monday, March 31, 2014

Savoring the Silence

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting with a friend of ours yesterday over brunch after church, during which the pastor had shared about the need to savor silence in our lives in order to draw closer to God. He even went so far as to suggest we unplug our televisions and tune into our loved ones, as I have written about lately.

As we visited with our friend, she reminded us that her husband, who is hospitalized with a stroke, was moved to a private room since his former roommate watched nonstop television, a medium not very helpful to the healing process, what with its daily menu of violence and vitriol. But it is not only television that hinders us from hearing the still, small voice of God in the silence. There are many sources of noise, technological and otherwise, that we need to notice and neutralize in our lives.

One simple way to dial out the distractions in daily life is to spend time enjoying nature. Now that spring has sprung in our area, my wife and I are awakening to the budding blooms of nature’s bounty all around us, whether it’s the forsythia, daffodils or pear trees pictured above, creation is coming alive in our corner of the world and we are slowing down to savor it. God created nature for us to enjoy and doing so blesses us even as it blesses the Creator.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Great Awakening

I once wrote a research paper about the eighteenth century spiritual revival called the Great Awakening. It started in New England and spread throughout the other colonies of America. And I think the time has come for another awakening today due to the stupefying effect of the screen age in which we live.

I am reading a thought-provoking book titled Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. It is subtitled “Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” and it is a classic treatise on the hypnotization of humanity through the means of television but also other technological tools at our disposal. The book was written before the advent of the Internet but its wisdom is as timely as it is timeless.

I don’t know about you but it appears to me that people are virtually sleepwalking through life and sometimes literally asleep at the wheel, largely due to the perceived need to stay “connected” with others, usually ones not present with the person. Don’t even get me started about the continued threat of texting while driving despite its being outlawed in most states.

If I have a pet peeve it is when people attend to someone absent at the expense of someone present. I have traveled hundreds of miles to stay overnight with loved ones only to be left waiting at the door while they chit-chatted on the phone with others. Respecting people begins with valuing their presence and if that is lacking then it doesn’t say much for the relationship.

In closing, I recently read an attention-getting quote by Annie Dillard in The Writing Life: “We still and always want waking. We should amass half dressed in long lines like tribesmen and shake gourds at each other, to wake up; instead we watch television and miss the show.” I am not so sure about the half dressed part, but I think it would help to turn off all our screens and tune into each other.