I'm a musician by trade. So, naturally, I spend a lot of time with music. When I was an underclassman, I was required to take our usual four semesters of music history, which involved listening quizzes. We were assigned certain pieces to listen to on our own time. These pieces were taken from the time period we were studying and exemplified many of the concepts we were discussing at the time. I was introduced to a lot of excellent music this way. Once we had listened to the pieces, we would be quizzed on them. Our professor would begin anywhere at all in the piece (not necessarily in the beginning -- we call these "needle-drop tests") and we would not only have to identify the piece, but the composer, date, and some of the concepts it exemplified. My sophomore spring, during the hardest iteration of the music history sequence, I spent a lot of time listening to very long pieces. I also spend a ton of time practicing, and in addition to that, I study my music for lengths of time. I'm currently in the middle of learning the biggest chunk of music I've ever had in my possession, and if I strictly need to memorize a tune, I can just sit at a table and hum the thing. When I'm first learning a piece, I also sit and listen to different recordings of it. Besides all this, I'm a member of one of the choirs at school, and several other classes require me to listen to pieces, as part of the course.
All this is to say that I'm constantly surrounded by classical music -- not even counting the music I like to listen to in my spare time (soundtracks, mostly). As a result, I find it incredibly difficult to listen to music as a hobby during the school year. I spend so much time around it that I need a mental break. My brain needs some quiet.
Last spring, my awesome church did a week of fasting from certain things -- each day we would abstain from something, the next day something different. One of those things was noise. I was not to watch TV, listen to music, or engage myself with any other sound than those I would naturally hear in the course of my day (Loud opera singing is something I naturally hear in the course of my day, so I was in the clear to practice). I distinctly remember that morning's time with Jesus. I had been used to listen to soundtracks while I journaled, but that day I abstained. I remember that chunk of time as serene, peaceful, and concentrated. And that, my friends, was the day I fell in love with silence.
There's something incredible about being quiet. I have discovered that it is healing to me. We spend all our days surrounded by the noise of the world around us, so when we get to slow down and simply hush -- what relief. Our minds and hearts need a break, and to be quiet is a break from everything else. Silence is an opportunity to find out how we really feel and think about something. As I write, my music is off and I am clicking away at the keys in my room. I can't think if my mind is crammed full of other things. I can't function properly.
Silence is also an invitation to get alone with our hearts and the One Who made them and remember who we are and Whose we are. If I don't have an opportunity to be quiet, I tend to forget these things. I lose track of where my heart is -- it got drowned out in all the noise. More importantly, quietude is my chance to listen to what God is whispering to me. It's my opportunity to simply be with Him -- and I'm finding more and more that that's all my soul really wants, anyway.
I believe that all of us crave quiet, somewhere deep in our souls. We need stillness. We desire peace. Why do you think all college students are longing for the day we don't have anything to prepare for, and all we have to do that day is rest? We are all craving rest and silence. The American world that I live in does not afford us that luxury -- at least, not very often. It's good to work and drive. But sometimes our hearts need quiet. How do we get it?
I try to set some margin for myself in my day: an hour or two before bed, just to read, write, or do absolutely nothing. At that point, if the homework isn't done, it just isn't done. This practice is becoming harder and harder as rehearsals kick up (next week we're rehearsing six days out of the seven), but I do my best. I also spend an hour or two right after I get up reading the Word of God, journaling, praying, and, during this Write 31 Days Challenge, write. I have to discipline myself to free up these hours (right now I'm super distracted, as I'm working on a repertoire list as I type this), but it's always worth it.
During the day, though, it's a lot harder to get quiet. I find that one-on-one meetings with my people, people who understand me and speak to my heart -- those actually silence my soul. They heal me. My people who know me at my core force me to talk about my heart and what I'm feeling. This is a GIFT, because it reminds me, again, of who I am and Whose I am.
Also, if we just start paying attention to the things that bring us joy, that practice alone brings quiet into our hearts and souls. For me, noticing the sky or the beautiful green of the trees, writing, reading, singing -- that reminds me that I am not a machine. I am a person with a soul and a need for Jesus and space and joy.
Silence is a beautiful thing, y'all. It's a tool to the healing of our hurried hearts. Today, may we not rush past it. May we stop and savor it, remembering who we have been created to be: not robots finishing a myriad of tasks, but flawed human beings with beautiful callings. May we let the silence heal us today. May it make the work sweeter still.