A profoundly deaf person once told me that she couldn’t stand silence, and always had to have some background noise on the go wherever she was. When I asked her to explain, she said that the problem with silence was that it simply high- lighted all the irritating and annoying sounds that plagued her hearing, and drove her to distraction. She might not have been able to discern what the background noise was, but it help her cope with her demons!
I suppose that, when you think about it, none of us are very good with silence, we all like the sound of the familiar ringing in our ears, whatever that might be for each of us.
On goes the tele! There is nothing on to watch, but the sound is comforting, or the radio or iPhones, all doing that similar jobs of protecting us from the demons that silence will bring into our lives.
But what are we frightened of ?
Our minds are a constant stream of all the confusions, doubts and chaos that makes up our day to day lives. If there is nothing to distract us, that is where our thoughts turn. We think about what we have to do, the problems that trouble us, the people who disturb us, our history with its guilts, the future, with all that we conjure up might happen!
The Jesus’ desert experience is about not simply seeking silence but seeking silence without the demons, clearing our heads of clutter so that we can listen with our hearts.
That’s why we are recommended to fast and abstain, not from the silly little pleasures that cheer us up, but from all the destructive and damaging things that we do, or allow to happen in our lives and the lives of others.
What is the point, the Sages ask, of searching for God when we are treading on people in the process?
The stillness of the desert was Jesus’ search for clarity, a clarity not all fogged up by angry or bitter hearts.
Lent says, purify first and then listen and we will hear the things of God and not the demons within!
Just a thought!