Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Deafening Silence

I just came from church. During our contemporary worship service, a young lady I have known since she was very small came on to talk about a recent retreat she had been on. She told about getting up before everyone else and going down to a tree beside a lake. She called it her "prayer tree" and she has been going down to that tree every time she goes to that retreat.

This brought back memories of my own youth, going to bible camp. We went to a camp called Christikon located in southern Montana on the Boulder River. The river was aptly named because it was a large amount of water flowing through very large rocks. Every once in a while the water would move a boulder creating a large crash or thump, but the din of this water through the rocks was constant, and deafening.

The camp was on the side of a hill, probably a half mile from the river separated by a large meadow full of wild flowers. In the meadow were more large rocks, some the size of a large car, many the size of a chair or sofa.

It was the camp's policy that nobody had a watch, nobody knew what time it was. We would be told what to do when it was necessary for us to do something. Traditionally a large bell would ring that could be heard for many miles. That would signal something needed to happen, and usually everyone knew what was to happen next.

So every morning the bell would ring, it was time to get up and meet at the lodge. You would be issued a bible verse and head out into the meadow to contemplate the verse.

For some reason I always had a hard time contemplating verses..... So I contemplated life instead.

Sometimes I would read the bible, I always liked to read the chapter before and after a particular verse, to see how many preachers take things out of context.

Many times however I would just sit and listen to the roar of the water. The roar was so loud and so constant that it became silent. Every once in a while there would be a loud thump or crash as a boulder moved in the water, but the silence of the deafening roar permeated the soul.

I remember talking to someone several years later, who was leaving Montana to go back to NYC. They could not handle the lack of noise. The cars, people, sirens, all melded together to form their environment and without the silence of the din, they were lost.

I have also experienced this while sitting on the beach by an ocean. For the first few days, there is noise, then all is silent, and when you leave, you miss the din, and long for the noise again.... I guess thats why they build all those condos next to the beach.

So as Emily told about her lake side "prayer tree," my thoughts went back to my contemplation rock, and the noise that silenced all noise. We allow too much stuff into our lives and we loose sight of what we are doing. Sometimes we need just a bit of noise to drown it all out.


V4Vagabond said...

Mountain Man,

I love your trips down memory lane. What a great line, ". . sometimes I couldn't contemplate the verse, so I would contemplate life . . ."

Sometimes it takes noise to get to silence.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Dene said...

Hi MissMtnMan,
Thanks for posting these wonderul essays. I so very much enjoy reading them and rereading them. Hope you continue sharing your point of view with us!
For me, it's like sitting down and having a conversation with you, and that makes me glad.
Love, Dene