In the late 80’s my son and I went on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of N. Minnesota. The BWCA is over a million acres in size and permits, mostly, only canoes and unmotorized conveyances to get around. Because of the number of permitted people that are allowed in, you can travel far without seeing a single person.
One of the things I experienced in the BWCA is a profound sense of loneliness. Excluding the fun I was having in the company of my son, there was no news from home, no one who knew exactly where we were at any moment, no one that I could tell about what my son and I were experiencing, and no external stimulation. Just us and silence.
This helped me to see in dramatic fashion how over-stimulated we are as a culture. Noise and distraction are almost like a drug, and the contrast between the BWCA and life on the street is dramatic. In some ways it feels like going out of a darkened movie theater into the bright light of day. From concentrating on one thing only to being in front of an airport’s flight controller console.
The people of Biblical times lived on the edge of the wilderness. Finding places to be silent would have been far easier than today where we carry electronic noise everywhere we go. The noise of the coffee shop, NPR on the morning commute, Netflix filling the silence at home, and don’t forget Amazon Alexa.
“Being still before the Lord” was easy in the BWCA. Only the dip of the oar in the water, the occasional Loon calling his mate, and the sounds of the forest competed against listening for the sounds that God makes deep in our souls.
God of the still quiet voice. Elijah learned to listen in stillness, and the Psalmists knew the value of silence. Please help us to learn that. May we learn to value the calmness that comes when we turn off the needless noise of our world. Help us to wean ourselves off of the addiction we have to distraction. In Jesus’ name. Amen.