The Kingdom of Noise
I wish I could capture the sounds I hear on top of Seven Sisters and put them in a bottle to sail across the Atlantic with me. It's the sound of silence. Up here on top of this grassy knoll all is quiet, except for the birdsong and the wind through the trees and the rustling of the grass.
From afar, I can hear the sound of a distant train. I stop running, I still, and sit for a moment in the glory. In the wonder of silence.
I mourn for the time I will no longer be able to climb this hill and hear the sweet song, it's melody lifts my spirit and transports the worries of the day from my mind. All is well when I am here. There is no noise here, no ringing of the phone, no text alerts, no video uploads. Only silence.
I fear I don't always recognize how Noise itself can be used by the enemy. In the Screwtape Letters, Toadpipe, who is sitting in for Screwtape, advises Wormwood of how the enemy uses noise to further their kingdom. He writes, "Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile ... We will make the whole universe a noise in the end." Lewis actually refers to the devil's kingdom as "The Kingdom of Noise."
It seems like this world keeps getting louder and louder. How loud will be loud enough? How much noise is needed to drown out the beauty of silence? How have I allowed my soul to feel at home in all this noise?
I recently attended a Sunday evening service at our church where Os Guiness was speaking. He urged the family of God to realize that today we are at an Augustinian moment. The 21st century church is at an extraordinary period of transition, marking the end of 500 years of Western dominance. How can we be warmed again?
When I still. When I sit. When I listen. Things look differently. I warm to the beauty of His presence. Wonder fills my spirit as I see things anew through the eyes of a child. Absent are the distractions brought on by all the noise of the day. Might we serve God's purpose in our extraordinary generation by being a people of silence?
The Melody of Heaven
It's in the silence I still and can hear the lyrics of the cross.
In describing Heaven, a writer once penned, "The regions where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence." I imagine heaven will be full of melodies, lyrics too sweet for our untrained mortal ears. And where the music is not sifting, silence will ensue. Awe wrapped up in the wonder of Him Whose splintered hands brought all of earth into harmony.
One date night Tim and I and a friend were able to steal away to hear a cellist play Bach's Cello Suite in Oxford's exquisite Sheldonian Theatre. When the cellist entered the Sheldonian Theatre, a stillness breathed over the audience as we anticipated the first notes. It was a magical evening. As I peered out the leaded glass windows at the falling rain, the cello sang its song of wonder, and glory swallowed the noise of the day.
The enemy rages war, making every effort to shout out the melody of heaven. But we will not be a Kingdom of Noise. We will wage war in silence and stillness. The birdsong of hope and cello of praise will accompany our movements. We will sit and listen to the wonder of silence.
And in the silence, we will hear the lyrics of the cross.