The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
~ 1 Samuel 3:10
Simon and Garfunkel in 1965 wrote a song that reflected on the, "Sounds of Silence." One of the things that I have had to adjust to over the years are the amazing number of hours that I sit in silence. As I drive from one patient home to the next, and even while I sit at bedside, the time that I spend in silence overwhelms the other hours of the day.
At first, I will admit, I was uncomfortable. Any time that our environment changes, there can be moments where it feels like somehow something, "might be," missing, or even for some, there will be attempts to recreate that which felt more "normal."
I can remember over ten years ago now, when my daughter left home and went off to college. It was the first time that I had lived by myself in over twenty years. I will admit, I really didn't know what to do. My four bedroom house that once teamed with activity, now was silent, and over the course of the next month, I was slated to move from this home to a smaller place in the city.
Our dog, which was my only companion on this journey, slept under my daughter's bed for three days, refusing to eat or go out, and all I could think was, "Emily has gone off to college, and now Sully (our dog), is going to die from heartbreak."
So, perhaps I was feeling a bit dramatic, but for a parent who is "empty-nesting" for the first time in two decades... well, you get the point.
I remember walking from room to room, in the silence, and making decisions on what to keep and what to give away. I couldn't listen to the radio, as I would hear a song playing that would open a memory, and I would find myself in a corner somewhere, drowning in my thoughts and tears.
I can look back now, since time has provided the distance that I needed in order to see what this big picture looked like, and I realize that this was a normal course in the life of my daughter and myself.
It was what I had hoped for in her life, and I simply hadn't thought far enough, or looked at the picture completely, to realize that my life would change as well.
Of course a year later, I was comfortable buying groceries for one, and even going to the movie theater by myself. It came with a period of change, and it took time, acceptance, and sometimes surrendering, in order to make it to the place where I needed to be.
One of the things that I have discovered about myself at this point in my life, after learning to live with this new silence, is that I actually long for these moments now. We are bombarded by noise from all types of sources. Our body has gotten used to the shock of a truck roaring by, or the train down the street. To the sound of a television simply turned on in the background, or the radio that simply remains on.
I am drawn to remember a young Samuel in scripture who seemed to hear everything, but the voice of God who was patiently, softly, and consistently, reaching out to him. Finally, one day in the silence, Samuel sensed the voice of God, and said, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."
You see, silence is something we need in our life for precisely these moments. For times when we are lost in the white noise of chaos. Where alarms sound, and our feet quickly make their way to the door. When the phone rings, or a text arrives, and we began to realize, "I can't even hear myself think."
The sounds of silence are always present. Like peace, that is what we tend to forget. It exists all the time around us. We just have to be willing to allow it in.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2021
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Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.