The other day I was looking at twitter. As is always the case, I walked into the middle of a conversation. About how to catch fruit flies. Connie Reece said,
Fruit fly trap: Put banana pcs in styrofoam cup. Cover w/ cling wrap; secure w/ rubber band. Poke tiny holes in top w/ toothpick
Having problems with fruit flies, I tried the trap. Not having bananas, I used pieces of pear.
I was astonished.
Connie spoke with confidence. She talked as if she had tried this solution. She gave clear directions. She used tools available around the house. The project worked with my own variations: plastic cup instead of styrofoam, pear instead of banana. She repeated the instructions several times to several people who asked.
I was thinking about fruit flies today in my favorite thinking place. I was also thinking about silence. I realized that if I am going to talk about the importance of silence, I have to have the same confidence Connie has about fruit fly traps. I have to be silent. If I am going to talk about solitude, I have to be alone. If I want to give directions that have freedom for adaptation, I need to identify what matters and what doesn’t.
Why silence in particular? Because in silence and solitude, in pockets of noiselessness, I most clearly hear God’s quiet voice.
I know. Quiet is hard to find. I often run a fan to create white noise to mask other sounds. The noise of 3 year olds cannot be masked. The din of conversations around the table, the frequent phone calls, the stream of questions–all of these are elements of noise that are necessary.
But I also know that I introduce a tremendous volume of noise into my life (pun half-intended).
I decide whether I turn on the radio when I’m alone. No one forces me to look at twitter or email or my feed reader or facebook as often as I look. I can decide whether to look at the screen in the middle of the conversation just to see whether someone responded to my question.
At least I think I can decide.
For the next week, I’m running some of my past posts while I work on some quiet.
Because if I can’t be quiet, I’ve got nothing to say.