As I have prayed and studied during the Lenten season I have chosen meditation as a lenten practice. I chose it because it is a spiritual discipline with which I have little experience and it seemed like a simple way to begin clearing a small amount of space in my spiritual wilderness. Knowing my own limitations to be great in this area, my goal was to add five minutes of meditation to my daily devotion time -- and five minutes of very basic meditation at that. My goal was simply to still my mind and listen for five minutes. Seems simple enough, right? Let me tell you that, for me, that five minutes of "quiet" requires nearly herculean effort on my part most days.
I entered this season with a hunger and great anticipation for spiritual growth. I believe that growth is coming but the serene peace and deep spiritual satisfaction I anticipated would accompany it has been sorely missing. What I have discovered int he last 30 days is how much noise fills my world. Noise comes in many forms. Some if of it is audible -- the television, itunes, the kids, video games, knocks on the door, the phone(s) ringing --but much of it is not: the computer, the efforts at trying to buy a house, email, papers, housing assignments, resident roommate drama, meals to prepare, national events, world events, demands, busy-ness, noise, noise, noise. From the moment I wake until the moment I fall asleep I fill my day with so much noise that there is no time to reflect and little chance to hear the still small voice that will guide me in this wilderness of my soul.
Please don't misunderstand. Much of the noise is good noise. Indeed, put into proper context, it is a symphony of beautiful music but without times of quiet and reflection it becomes mere noise. The irony of this to me is that the last week or so I have been incredibly tempted to "cheat" on my other Lenten practice. Every year I take this time to, in a sense, cleanse and reset by abstaining from the senseless electronic games that I tend to fill my empty time with. For the last week or so I have been wrestling with boredom and a desire to escape from the noise in my world by throwing myself into the mindless occupation of computer games -- Solitaire, Farmville, Angry Birds, etc -- any of them would pass the time and distract me from the noises that are pulling at me.
But where is the sense in that? How can drowning one kind of noise out with another really help me grow? Or be more effective? Or love the people around me better? The obvious answer is that it can't. Indeed, the drive to run to mindless occupations really seems to be a desire to run from quiet and reflection that I so desperately need in my world. What a strange paradox that what I think I desire is more time for the things that are important and less busy-ness and yet when I have it I frantically fight it and want to run away from it!
So my clearing season has not been panning out quite the way I had planned but I can see the growth coming. I have cleared a tiny space and see new life sprouting from it. As I enter the last two weeks of this season I look forward to more still and quiet times and hearing God's voice turn the noise into beautiful music.