Tell Me About Silence
I can’t know true silence. With a profound hearing loss in my left ear, white noise fills my days like someone is searching for a radio station, gives up, walks away shaking his head, goes outside to check the mail, remembers he promised to go the store for his wife and leaves me with static pulsing in my head. I don’t hear bells, not ringing, but fuzz coming in and out on the tide. Sleep-deprivation makes it worse, loud like I am sitting with my ear pressed against the grille cloth of an old radio’s giant speaker – still the same pulsing and fuzzing but incessant and annoyingly noticeable. Most days I try to ignore it, and as long as I am focused and paying attention OUT there, outside my head, I can even forget it’s there.
I picture my fuzzy silence as multi-layered, higher tones on the top, like white meringue on a banana-cream pie, mustardy colored beneath, and I think it has pores in it – little dots and holes that help it resonate and pulse in my head. Isn’t that weird that I can imagine it as bands, ribbons of sound? I never thought why that might be until I paid attention to the impression in my mind and tried to describe it. Why do I have this image of a physical thing, an apparition living in space dedicated to my distraction? Maybe because I must account for it somehow – this invisible and sense-defying affliction, muting my life, a mustard-meringue pie inside my ear.
And, now, the ear, nose, and throat guy tells me my “good ear” is sinking into the non-normal range which I suspected from experience, but now have had confirmed by the expert. No white noise there, just muteness. Maybe the noise is coming some day to join my left, a duet of mustard-meringue pie soundings. . . I think I am feeling a little sorry for myself which in the whole scheme of things is pretty selfish, I suppose. I haven’t lost a leg nor am I dying of cancer. I’m not blind. I don’t have leprosy. I don’t have that disease that makes your skin rot away. I’m just on mute. Well, that’s not entirely right. The world is on mute. I’m in my non-silent silence.
I’m glad God is not deaf to my voice.
Still, how does this all fit with the Christian I think I am, the Christian I want to be? How have Christians through all ages dealt with affliction – and, I have to say, mine seems trivial almost compared to those who live in constant pain, or in constant fear. But, you see, it doesn’t feel trivial. It feels like the biggest thing in the world, and God should change it. It gives me empathy for those who tell me things that don’t feel good in their lives, some minor, some major. We are bound in our self-enclosed viewpoint and don’t find our way out easily.
But maybe that’s why these things have a way of calling us to God and to God’s word. The psalmist declares: “You are good, and all You do is good” (Ps. 119:68) and by extension, all He chooses NOT to do (like heal me) is good. We want that good to feel good and be the good we imagine for our good life. It’s about perspective – will I trust my perspective or His? This is no easy question and others have wrestled with it through the ages. But it does come down to a choice – as simple as faith and clear as Calvary. Will I choose to trust Him and let this silence work His way in me?
Tell me about silence so I can listen.