The older I get, the less interested I am in noise. When I was younger, I filled every moment with something to hear: the television, the radio, a cassette tape or a CD. (I was obviously “younger” in the time before downloadable music.) Now I can add podcasts and TED talks on my phone. I can not only fill all my moments with sound – I can learn something in the process!
I recently learned that the word “noise” is rooted in the word “nausea“. The ancient Greek word for sailors was “nautes” which in time also came to mean “seasickness. The Romans borrowed and Latinized the word to become “nausea” whenever describing a feeling of discomfort. In the mouths of the French, “nausea” became “nois“. The English tacked an “e” on the end, giving us “noise,” and here we are. Of course, we use “nausea” in English as well. Why borrow one word when you can borrow two?
Sometimes, I crave silence. Sometimes I just turn everything off so I can experience stillness, calm, quiet… peace. Sometimes, I am desperate to hear the One who speaks quietly. Psalm 62:5 says, “My soul, wait in silence for God alone, for my hope is from Him.“
It’s hard to argue that I spend too much time in prayer. I confess: I spend way too little. But in the time I do spend, I’m almost always the one doing the talking. There’s so much on my mind… so much I’m anxious about… that I have to make sure God is informed. After all, what if God doesn’t solve my problem because God doesn’t know? So even though I may have taken a moment to shut off all the devices, the noise doesn’t stop if I become the source of it.
Lord, teach us to listen, because as much as we need to tell you what’s on our mind, we need even more to hear what’s on yours.