Today one my best friends since childhood sent me a text at 7am, “Have you heard of this Buechner quote?” she wrote. I read her message from my seat in my junk-laden mini-van in the parking lot of Cohen’s school, shortly after dropping him off at before-care. The morning light was still pale, and a few people were walking out of 6am Mass. It read:
“Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . ”
“Here’s to stopping the chatter today,” I wrote back to her.
But how do you stop the chatter? How do you tune out the chaotic banter and babble and instead find the frequency of the one Voice that matters? I mean, as soon as I pulled out of that parking lot my ears were barraged with noise. First, it was (quite literally) the sound of all of the junk in my mini-van moving from side to side as I turned corners. Man, I need to get that old tortellini salad out of the backseat, I thought. Then, it was the written and verbal requests of students and coworkers. During lunch, it was news radio. After school, I listened to a doctor tell me about how Cohen’s adenoids are too big, and at dinner I heard Ellie demanding more “balls” (meatballs), Sophie manically laughing and crying about how she doesn’t like pineapple, and Jacob attempting to describe how he thinks I should cut my bangs into “a triangle” because he thinks I could pull off “that trendy look.”
So how do we establish the silence that syncs our souls up with the Holy? I suppose we must find time to be purposefully quiet, even if it’s within our own minds, and even if it’s behind a locked bathroom door. And Silence, if it does what is supposed to do, will produce Substance, and this Substance, in some mystical way, allows the banter to become beautiful. When we are rooted in silence, the noise ceases to be a distraction and instead might become a marvelous, comic, beautiful show.
PS: For instance, as I was typing that last paragraph, Sophie was screaming “Daddy!!” at the top of her lungs from upstairs. I finally went up to her and told her daddy was on a walk. Then after a long pause she said, “Mama, I just gotta tell you something. Did you know alligators are green and crocodiles are blue?” Now, this is a classic Sophie statement. (That is, it doesn’t make a lick of sense but her cuteness and confidence make it difficult to create a rebuttal.) “Really?” I asked her. “Yeah,” she said.
And Bam. My thesis. Beautiful banter. (I don’t know how to end this post.)