Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 26, 2019


On being able to sit in a quiet room alone


            The world is noisy. Our lives are filled with constant noise. Everywhere we go we hear engines running, horns blowing, people talking, people yelling, people laughing, dogs barking, birds chirping, noise here, noise there.

            Some of us are addicted to noise. We fear silence so we create noise. We keep the radio or the television turned on. Some people cannot sleep without the sound of the radio or television.  

            There is, however, no doubt that we all need some silence in our lives. The difficulty is finding ways to escape noise so for a little while we can be refreshed by silence. Though silence is hard to find, each of us must develop a plan to secure it.

            Those who think deeply testify to our need for silence. You may argue with Blaise Pascal but I think you will admit that his assertion is difficult to dismiss. He said, “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Mull that over. Must you admit, as I must, that you seldom intentionally take the time to sit alone in a quiet room so that your inner peace may be restored?  

            Granted, we all need conversations with other people but constant dialogue with others needs to be interrupted by times of silence. Continual human interaction can be debilitating. No wonder Will Rogers once said, “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” It is indeed wearisome to listen to someone who is determined to tell you everything they know about the subject under discussion. Perhaps that is why Henry David Thoreau once said, “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

            Of late my wife Dean has been teaching me the value of silence. She says, “Let’s get a cup of coffee and sit on the front porch and watch the sunset.” To be honest, I found myself resisting her invitation. Doing nothing seemed a waste of time. My need to stay busy “doing something” made it difficult to relax, sit and watch the changing colors in the sky. I did not say it out loud but the words were bouncing in my mind, “When you have seen one sunset, you have seen them all!”

In these days Dean and I enjoy talking to each other or not talking. Silence is also enjoyable. Just being together, being alive, is a blessing. However, we have to laugh occasionally at how the doggone birds rob us of silence as the suns settles quietly in the west.

Being a preacher, my front porch time also reminds me that silence gives us opportunity to hear God speak. Constant noise keeps us from hearing God. In silence we can allow God to restore our souls that have been bombarded by the world’s noise. We can follow the example of the Psalmist David who said, “My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation.”

While composing these thoughts, I came across these wise words from Mother Teresa, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Well, now you know that my means of escaping constant noise is to surrender to Dean’s invitation to sit on the porch, often in silence, and let the Lord restore my soul as the sun sets peacefully once again. Hopefully, one day I will be able to overcome my workaholic nature and sit in a quiet room alone.

What’s your plan for handling the world’s noise? I hope you have one + + +