One thing I have particularly enjoyed since I have been home this week is the opportunity to be still. I almost missed this opportunity by trying to fit in everything I needed to do before Christmas....including socialize with friends. Amidst the trips to Target and fighting traffic, I have taken time to be at home with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and the fireplace.
It amazes me how hard it is for people to be still. Even when we have the opportunity to sit still, we don't. We live in an electronic world that exists on sound bites. We Google what we want to know and as soon as we've read the part of the information that gives us the answer, we move on. We shuffle to our favorite song on our Ipod, listen to our favorite part, and then shuffle on to the next one. We change the channel on the TV every chance we get to see what might be better on another channel. We avoid live productions that we can't "mute" or "fast forward". We choose DVD's and sound bites so we can stop and start at will, rewind when we missed something because we were talking, and come back to it later when we feel like it.
I have tried an experiment in my classes this year. I have chosen a piece of choral music that lasts at least 3 1/2 minutes long. It seems that 2-3 minutes is the maximum amount of time people will sit without "needing" to make a comment, think about something else, get bored, make eye contact with another individual, or fidget. I will continue to play music for my students to practice the art of listening and being "in the moment". I don't really know how to fix this glaring problem. We can't take away progress and remove all their gadgets. Teachers feel so defeated at times that we lower our expectations because we feel people aren't capable of listening or that we won't be supported by parents.
Society makes excuses for people who won't listen by blaming the teacher for being boring, the subject matter for being outdated, the method of delivery for only reaching one type of learner, and the list goes on. I don't want to compete with gadgets and Hollywood style visuals. God gave us five senses. One of them is hearing. I don't want my children to only hear what they want to hear. I want them to learn to be still so they can hear the Lord. I know God is capable of piercing the noise and pushing His voice through the noise of the world. I don't know if He will always choose to do so. "Be still and know that I am God." If I don't learn to listen I will never hear my Shepherd's voice amid the noise and clamor. Just like we savor a yummy piece of cake or our favorite dessert to the very last morsel, we should be still and quiet long enough to taste the very last morsel that God has for us in a song, in a scripture passage, in the words of someone older, wiser, and slower, or in a story. It is important to remember that we have to learn to listen. I don't want to teach my children that it is the responsibility of others to entertain them and keep their attention. If they want to learn, they must choose to listen and learn. I want my children to be responsible for learning. I hope they will love learning and that those teaching them are passionate for their subjects, but I don't want them to expect entertainment. I want them to learn to listen......really listen.
Don't fill the silence. Oftentimes it is in the silence that God reveals Himself. It is also in the silence that our minds are allowed to process information. If we dump all the ingredients to make bread in a bowl and do not allow time for them to incorporate and blend evenly, our bread will not rise or bake correctly. Let's allow time for the ingredients of life to rise and blend.
It's hard work, but will reap great results.