Saturday, July 9, 2011

Being Forced To Be Silent

I think the media outlets in this household have turned against us. Last week our wireless went out and this week our T.V. broke. Then last night when we were listening to Pandora, the server went out and didn't come back. Oh yeah, and the new camera that I bought broke (but I did buy it used off eBay so that one might be my fault).

So as I'm connecting the computer to the modem instead of using wireless, watching movies on the computer instead of T.V. and listening to iTunes instead of Pandora, I start to think...

Why am I working to hard to get these things back so quickly and why am I actually annoyed that I can't watch T.V. and listen to music in the I really need this stuff? And even worse...are these things filling a void that they shouldn't be?

So then I start thinking that maybe I should stop rigging everything up again and think about the fact that maybe someone is trying to tell me something! The kicker is that last night as I was reading before bed I just "happened" to be at a section of my book titled "The Avoidance of the Painful Void" that went like this...

" It is the most basic human loneliness that threatens us and is so hard to face. Too often we will do everything possible to avoid the confrontation with the experience of being alone, and sometimes we are able to create the most ingenious devices to prevent ourselves from being reminded of this condition.

Our culture has become most sophisticated in the avoidance of pain, not only our physical pain but our emotional and mental pain as well. We not only bury our dead as if they were still alive, but we also bury our pains as if they were not really there.

We have become so used to this state of anesthesia, that we panic when there is nothing or nobody left to distract us. When we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no television to watch or no record to play, and we are left all alone by ourselves we are brought so close to the revelation of our basic human aloneness and are so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of loneliness that we will do anything to get busy again and continue the game which makes us believe that everything is fine after all."

So here I am, sitting in silence, thinking about the fact that I do not spend enough time being quiet without distractions. But at the same time I am on the computer rather than actually experiencing my 'aloneness' so this whole thing is a contradiction anyway. I guess I'm left with the challenge of living life more fully not by doing more to avoid pain but by by spending more time in meaningful solitude and taking time to experience and reflect on the pain that makes me human. Henri Nouwen sums it up well:

"The few times, however, that we do obey our severe masters and listen carefully to our restless hearts, we may start to sense that in the midst of our sadness there is joy, that in the midst of our fears there is peace, that in the midst of our greediness there is the possibility of compassion and that indeed in the midst of our irking loneliness we can find the beginnings of a quiet solitude."

Both excepts taken from the book 'Reaching Out" by Henri Nouwen.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

Thanks Elsa for your insight. I totally agree. God has to ask me again and again, "Debbie, when am I going to be all that you need?"

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