“Do your part. Stay at home.”
We hear it over and over, and they are wise words right now. Even if we are not worried ourselves about getting COVID-19, we should worry about giving it to others in our lives through unintended, symptomless spread of the virus.
But for many used to a go-go-go, fast-paced, “do what you want when you want to” society, where acquisition spells security and we fill our brains with noise to drown out the silence (because, heaven forbid, the quiet will remind us of how miserable or depressed we are), right now is extraordinarily difficult.
How do we learn to be content in the quiet? To learn to relax and just “be” without all the distractions?
There’s a story we’ve seen circulating on the news about a man who lives alone on an island in Italy. The self-described hermit stays in touch with family and friends on social media, and before the coronavirus lockdown, tourists would visit the island from time to time. But for the most part, he spends his days alone—something many people dread. (You can read the article here.)
“I read a lot, and think. I think many people are scared of reading because if they do, they’ll start meditating and thinking about stuff, and that can be dangerous,” he says in the article. “If you start seeing things under a different light and be critical, you could end up seeing what a miserable life you lead or what a bad person you are or the bad things you did.”
But when we face that quiet and introspection head-on, it’s almost always a good thing. As Orson Welles famously said, “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.”
And while as Christians we know Jesus is with us every step of the way, let’s face it—sometimes we use distractions or other people to avoid the inevitable: that in the end it’s just me and Jesus, no distractions, no noise, no buffer.
So right now, take the plunge: learn to just be. Learn to embrace the quiet and the boredom. Learn to focus on God and tune out the noise and distraction of everyday life.
Stat small, if you like. Go outside and sit on the porch, or go to another room and shut the door—no phone, no book, nothing—and just sit for half an hour. Build up your alone time.
In Isaiah 30:15, the Lord says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”
Learning to embrace the quiet can be scary and uncomfortable. You might get bored. But in the end, you’ll know yourself—and God—all the more.
And that is most definitely worth it.