Tuning Out

Graphic EqualizerA few years ago I decided I needed to tune out.

I was challenged by a sermon to consider where and when I was making time for God beyond my normal routine–to consider the spiritual discipline of solitude and silence.  I started thinking about it.  I do kind of have a routine with God in the evenings, and I pray at random times during the day.  However, there wasn’t a lot of margin in my life for just hearing from God let alone giving him space to speak.  Neither was there much room for my brain to process without a lot of other distractions.

After a few different moments of reflection, I decided that while I usually live alone, home was not the best place for this.  There’s too much visual noise.  The office is really where I’m supposed to be focused on other things—God and his work definitely, but not so much the solitude and silence part (though it’s not such a bad idea some days!). The best place for me to find that space was in my car.  Normally I don’t drive a lot–about 10 minutes to and from the office each day, perhaps twice that if I’m running errands.  But 20 minutes a day (give or take) is 20 minutes.

So, I turned off the radio.  Since it was a few weeks before Easter, I figured it could be my attempt to give something up for Lent (not a normal practice in my life).  I struggled at first.  I wondered what the traffic report was—forget the fact that unless Godzilla was walking down my street, my commute was never going to make the news.  I thought about the banter between the cohosts on the morning and afternoon shows.  I considered what songs I might be missing.  I rejoiced that I didn’t have to listen to more bad advertising.

It took a little over a week for my thoughts to find new directions.  I started to noticing people who repeatedly appeared along my route.  My annoyance with the RTD buses diminished.  I started praying more—prayers of blessing and safety for those texting and driving next to me; prayers of health and joy for the elderly couple out for their morning walk; prayers for a sense of calmness when someone cut me off; and prayers of thanksgiving when I realized I made a dumb driving error and no one was injured.

Beyond talking to God, I started listening to him.  I’d ask a question and then just wait.  Sometimes a verse would jump into my mind right away.  Other times I’d find myself singing a hymn or praise song that had just the right words to answer my situation.  Sometimes, I sit in silence secure in the knowledge that God will tell me what he needs to tell me when I need to know and really not before that.

For the most part, my car remains a spot of silence and solitude.  I turned the radio on Easter Monday that first year—for about 2 minutes.  I couldn’t take the inconsequential chatter and noise.  The radio has come on a few times—while I’m stuck in traffic on the Interstate, when I’m traveling and it looks like there might be a wall of storm a few miles ahead, when I need another voice in the car to help me stay awake.  I have a mix CD that I play on longer trips because rolling down the road to “Life is a Highway” or “Man in the Mirror” or “I’m Gonna Be” (the I Would Walk 500 Miles song) and singing at the top of my lungs is therapeutic once in a great while.

Most of the time, however, silence fills my car.  I can hear my own thoughts.  I can talk to God attend to what he has to say. I can enjoy the white space of solitude and silence.

Where do you find the space to tune out so you can tune in?

photo courtesy of weirdvis

FaithBarista_Rest2JamBadge

Today I’ve joined the Faith Barista’s Faith Jam.  Every week Bonnie’s asking other bloggers to “jam like musicians” on a faith and life related topic.  This is my riff on “Whitespace: Spiritual Rest.”  I’d love to read your thoughts on the topic.  Please leave a comment or a link to your blog if you’ve jammed on this.  And if you haven’t blogged on it, please leave some of your thoughts in the comment section below.  If you’re interested in seeing what others had to say, please follow the link over to the Faith Barista site.

Tags: , , ,

9 Responses to “Tuning Out”

  1. Nathan R. HaleMarch 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    I am a huge fan of intentional silence and mediation. It was huge part of my daily routine before I had a kid, but now it’s a lot more difficult to find the time and space. However, it’s not impossible–your post reminded me that I need to so some more listening…

  2. dunlizzieMarch 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    I love it! When I am visiting in the States I often like to blast the Christian radio because it isn’t something I’ve had in a while, but often I find that I love silence while I drive – and I love to drive. There’s something about it that makes you pay more attention to the world around you, which opens your heart to really pray – and something about the silence that makes you want to listen. I can even recall repeated prayers because they always seemed to come at a certain intersection and now it seems I can’t go through those intersections without praying again, or praising God for the answer! It’s really beautiful and I am glad you found your space there, even if you weren’t one who loved driving to begin with 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. SherylMarch 31, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Nathan–I’m sure having a kid definitely mucks up much of the silent time you once spent at home! He’s a cutie though. I hope you soon find the space you need to let your ears do their work.

    Dunlizzie–It’s so true that certain landmarks and intersections trigger memories of answered prayer–and petitions still needing repetition. I do so like Jamming with you!

  4. weirdvisMarch 31, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Hi Sheryl. Just dropped by to thank you for chosing one of my graphics and also to thank you for the comment and the link. I hope you find your moments of peace. I keep koi carp and watching them swimming around works for me. :0) Lynne.

  5. SherylApril 1, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    You’re so welcome, Lynne! God is good to provide even a breath of peace in the biggest moments of crisis let alone on “ordinary” days. Koi are lovely. I’d have to keep them in my bathtub . . . and, well, that would present a few other problems! I’m so glad you have your own blood pressure lowering solution.

  6. KatieApril 1, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Intentional silence and solitude…. can be hard in the midst of life. I am learning what works for me. I love that you drive and use that time. I have long commute and use it along with Christian music for my whitespace.

  7. SherylApril 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Katie, I’m always impressed how the same vehicle can get us to the same place so differently. (Pun only slightly intended). Thanks for stopping by!

  8. JenniferApril 4, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    That sounds great! When I traveled back and forth from college on the weekends, I used to rotate between silence and “sing-a-long” songs, depending on my mood. Even though I didn’t always enjoy the commute, I had some great moments with God. 🙂

  9. SherylApril 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Sometimes you just need to sing, right? I love that I, too, can have both silence and some jammin’ tunes in the car, Jennifer. Thanks for stopping by!

Leave a Reply