I just returned from posting letters in our mailbox, 3oo feet from our house. It’s a cold, foggy day, and over the crunch of gravel under my feet I heard the sibilant song of a little bird.
Five little notes. They transported me to spring.
I spotted the bird — a drab grey thing perched on the vines of a blackberry bush — but it offered no more song. Just the five little notes.
But they were enough, and while it is still a dreary day with little to promise but rain, my hope turns to spring, and all because of five little notes.
Silence, or Noise
If I had been in a city, I would have missed them, their song eclipsed by traffic and shouting and machinery and all the sounds and fury associated with a metropolis. But I was in the country, where silence prevails, and because of that silence, I was able to hear the small, the gentle, the quiet, the unobtrusive.
So it is with modern life where — whether we live in the city or the country — we fill our ears and our eyes and our minds and our senses and our totality of being with noise:
Radio, TV, YouTube, newspapers, magazines, music in our ear buds, social media, texting, and the voices of all sorts of people in all sorts of places telling us how and what to think.
Voices don’t have to be audible to be in our head — they just have to be thoughts, generated by others, and passed on to us with the expectation that we will accept them, question free, simply because
1) They are given to us by people in authority, and this includes religious authority
2) They are repeated so often and so consistently that we begin to accept them as our own.
Thinking Requires Silence
Both situations are alive and well in our society, resulting in a people who no longer think for themselves, but echo the thoughts we are fed. Yes, this is an objectionable rumination, but stop and and consider: when is the last time you sat down — in a silent room — and asked yourself,
“What is it I believe, and why?” About life, about freedom, about the country you live in and the government that runs it, about your job, about how much — if any — of the news you hear is unbiased, unfiltered, and true.
As a Christian, there is an even more important question, and it is this:
“What do I believe about Christ, and why?”
Those of you who read me regularly know that I emphasize the individual aspect of our relationship with Jesus, and while this does NOT mean that I advocate avoiding people, I do strongly advise questioning leadership, and not accepting everything we are told simply because Pastor said it (he has a degree, and you do not) or because our denominational headquarters decrees it, or worse, a global council of religious leaders, celebrity Christians, and authoritarian figures agree that this should be so.
Trust Yourself a Little, Okay?
When Jesus describes us as sheep, He also describes Himself as the Shepherd. There is no intermediary figure between the Shepherd and His sheep.
But we are constantly putting one there, insisting that it is impossible for individual believers to grow outside of man made configurations, to the point that we demand of the nonconformist,
“How will you ever learn without people to teach you?”
Someone recently asked me this, and I replied, “The Holy Spirit is our teacher, and while He may use the wisdom and words of people, He does not expect us to rely upon them blindly.”
The Still, Quiet Voice of God
We need silence, time away from traffic noise and the pandemonium of mass media that we surround ourselves with, all day, every day, so that we can hear the five little notes of a songbird, or the still, quiet voice of God.
Have you ever wondered why you talk to Him, but He doesn’t answer?
Have you ever thought that maybe He is answering, but in the midst of all the clamor and cacophony, His voice is being drowned out?
Turn it off, and walk away. Start with five minutes, alone, and in silence, and build upon this. You don’t need 24 hours of this, every day of the year, but you do need something, even if it’s nothing more than five little notes.
Luke 5:16 tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” No Facebook. No iPhone. No music. No voices, other than God’s.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I seek out the seekers who want something more than convention, blithe assurances of security, and shallow promises from people who care little for the needs of others.
Posts similar to this one are
Are We Truly Free? (at my other blog, This Woman Writes)