Eliminate noise. Thomas Merton wrote: "Physical solitude, exterior silence, and real recollection are all morally necessary for anyone who wants to lead a contemplative life." Lamentations 3:25-26: "The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
Haverkamp writes about a movie I personally have never seen titled "Into Great Silence." It's a documentary about the lives of Carthusian monks and apparently is about three hours long and contains almost no words. Carthusian monks live as hermits, but they also live in community as part of a large complex of hermitages and share in some worship and fellowship together. They don't take a vow of silence, but they live without talking much all the same. The movie, Haverkamp writes, captures the nuance, beauty, and fullness of their lives. "You can see and hear the holy solitude of the monks in their daily life together."
How often are you barraged by human voices, music, your cell phone, or other noises? Have you ever chosen silence to just see what happens? Haverkamp encourages us to pick a day, or even part of a day, and fast from all noise as much as we are able by turning off or choosing not to use: radio, television, podcasts, audio books, music, etc. If you have to have your phone on, turn it to vibrate. Then see what happens in the silence. You may find yourself feeling nervous or distracted. It may be difficult to adjust to the silence.
Reflection: Why is silence so difficult for us? What happens in your mind when you think about being in silence? Do you think about God meeting you in that place? As I finished this devotional this morning, I sat for about a half hour in the silence of my home. It wasn't long at all before I became distracted by the sound of the furnace running, one of my dogs walking across the hardwood floor, a car passing by outside, the neighbors going to their car, and then even my own breathing and occasional yawn. My mind kept returning to my schedule for today and the errands I need to run. It's hard to just be silent and listen - and yet, Lamentations tells us that it is in the quiet where we will find the Lord.