We live in a world where important people are plugged in, wired, connected. Information blizzards us. Cyber-social networks keep us continuously updated on hundreds or thousands of people in real-time stream of consciousness. The Twitterers tweet. We don’t have to go looking for the “news.” Ping—it comes looking for us, clogging the inbox. We used to subscribe to our preferred knowledge providers. Now it takes all our time just to Unsubscribe (or try to).
But it was ever thus. The system is always telling us what’s important, what we need to know, what we need to buy, what we’ve got to see. The messages come unbidden. This way lies happiness, preferment, satisfaction. The voices are so loud, so pervasive and seductive they drown out everything.
This is a big problem for people who know they have a soul.
You have a soul, of course, and it has its own ways of speaking to you, telling you what it knows, who it must be, what it needs, where it wants to go. But the soul is very, very shy. It speaks quietly, usually only after a time of quietness and solitude. Your soul will not compete with the Big Noise. It refuses to shout. When you surround it day after day with the culture’s caterwauling, never giving it a moment of stillness, your soul simply shuts down. It retracts into something like its fetal position and waits, calmly, for the clamor to subside so that it can speak quietly in your inner ear.
Given a moment of hush, it will whisper your name and you will know it. It will tell you what is important, what lasts forever, what you love. It will tell you what you don’t need to worry about any more. It will breathe forgiveness and mercy and peace without a word.
If that sounds just like the voice of God, it should. Your soul is simply the place where your life and the life of God coincide.
Summer often affords us moments of quietness. If we’re lucky, we vacation in places where there is no TV or only spotty cell service. No paper thuds on the driveway. We tend to walk deserted roads or moonlit beaches. After the withdrawal symptoms abate, it feels good to unhook from the chatter, the grind and the noise. Then it’s possible to hear the still, small voice.