Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sounds of Silence

Two years ago I met a lovely lady, the same generous person who is currently dedicating her Fridays to teaching Theology to my children. A year ago the friendship began to deepen when we invited her, along with other acquaintances, to join our family on Friday mornings to pray the Rosary. After the Rosary, she would often stay and help with the children or just to sit and chat while enjoying a cup of Canadian tea with us.

On one of those mornings the question of favorite music came up as a topic of discussion and the children had a number of favorite songs and bands to list for her. Then it came her turn to tell us of her favorite music and her answer gave me much to ponder over the following months. She told us that her favorite music was silence as she could better hear God in it. Of course, she added, we often have the radio on or the TV when the children are home, but when I am alone at home, or in the car – I prefer to have silence.

This reminded me of one of my children’s God Mothers. She had been an apostolate at Madonna house at one time and in listening for God’s will in her life was eventually led to the man she was to marry and have a family of five with. She too said that she craved silence and as a mother, her greatest cross was in dealing with the noise that children just naturally generate. (Their family was limited to five due to serious health issues – not the noise level!)

After my friend left that day it did not take me long to forget her comment, but it obviously left a mark on my conscience as on the rare occasions that it is silent here I would find her words rumbling about my head. Especially as I found that more often than not, I would quickly attempt to fill the void. I did this, usually, with talk radio.

I started to ask myself why. Why did I feel this need for noise? Why did I find silence so loud? And empty? Was I trying to avoid being alone with my thoughts? This led me to more questions. One in particular was – how did the constant background noise affect the children. Was their home as peaceful as it could be, especially given we are so many in such a small house. So I began, when I found myself in those uncomfortable moments of silence, to substitute music for the talk radio. Sometimes I chose more lively music such as Jars of Clay and at other times, I opted for the Gregorian Chant.

I noticed that when we did this during chore time, it went more smoothly and cheerfully with many of us often dancing about as we washed dishes, vacuumed and swept. Even I joined in with the dancing. Still, when I went to my room for a break, I would automatically turn on my radio. My excuse was that the sound of hosts talking helped drown out the noise that sifts through the floor and my door. But I began to wonder how true that excuse was. The best answer that I came up with was that it was a habit. Simply a habit.

A week ago I surprised myself when I realized that I had been listening so little to the radio that I no idea what was happening out there in the world. I did not know which politician had recently insulted another, nor sadly did I know if the sole survivor of the first mine disaster had come out of his coma yet. But that was okay – I could always check the internet if I really wanted to know this and truly, I think my children are probably the better for not knowing so much of the news esp. when much of it is so negative. Besides, if we keep dancing as we do our chores, I just might be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes again.

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