Cultivating Quietness in a VERY LOUD WORLD

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The ancient Celts used to say that there are only a few feet between heaven and earth and at times, that distance can be even smaller.  When this happened, they called it a “thin place.”  A thin place is that Kairos moment, that holy instance where God breaks in and we experience him in ways that are precious and transformative and impossible to describe.

Thin places can be our experience during majestic moments of communal worship, or in the sleepy solitude of morning prayer.  Thin places often emerge through our encounters with nature; The roar of the ocean arrests our heart or the sound of birdsong captivates our soul or the wind in the trees immerses us in a holy hush.

While we cannot control how or when the space between heaven and earth becomes thin—that is the work of God’s Spirit—we can learn to be available and aware so that we do not miss these rare treasures.  This has become harder and harder to do as we try to navigate lives entrenched in digital noise, immersed in the incessant chatter of our devices.

You might be surprised at how immersed you are in noise-creating technologies.  Walk through your day—what are your digital practices?  How do you handle pings, beeps, and other notifications?  How often is the radio droning on the background when you are driving?  When is the TV playing?  Make a simple list–don’t judge yourself, just make the list.

Sometimes the best thing we can do to open our hearts to the possibility of Kairos, to prepare our hearts for thin places, is to fast from some of that noise.  It is never easy, but the fruit of even a short noise fast can be shockingly abundant.  To that end, here is a simple plan to follow:

STEP 1: LIST THE WAYS YOU INVITE NOISE INTO DAILY LIFE

​You might be surprised at how immersed you are in noise-creating technologies.  Walk through your day—what are your digital practices?  How do you handle pings, beeps, and other notifications?  How often is the radio droning on the background when you are driving?  When is the TV playing?  Make a simple list–don’t judge yourself, just make the list.

STEP 2: ASK, ‘WHAT DO I GAIN, WHAT DO I LOSE?’

​Take a couple of minutes to assess how beneficial or how detrimental each noise-inducing practice is.  Use a scale with -10 being extremely detrimental  and +10 being extremely beneficial.  Again—you aren’t judging yourself, but simply trying to make an honest evaluation.

STEP 3: CHOOSE ONE THING FOR A NOISE FAST

Look at your list and choose one thing you will fast from for one day or more.  Will you turn off smartphone notifications?  Eliminate the radio in the car?  Leave the TV off?

STEP 4: LISTEN TO THE SILENCE

​Don’t fill those quiet places with other kinds of noise or busyness, but seek to be still and simply listen.  Hear your own heartbeat and the sounds of the world going on around you.  Listen to the Spirit of God—does he have something to say?

STEP 5: ASK AGAIN, ‘WHAT DID I GAIN OR LOSE?’

At the end of the day, take a few minutes to evaluate how the fasting from that noise inducer helped or hindered you in your overall well-being and spiritual journey.

STEP 6: CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE AND DO IT AGAIN

​If you have seen the real benefit of a noise fast, determine to make this a habit of life.  Choosing to eliminate one source of noise every day will open up space for Kairos, for that place between you and heaven to grow very thin.  These are the moments that make life the awesome adventure and holy wonder that God intends for it to be.


You’ve been reading with Tricia McCary Rhodes from her book The Soul at Rest: A 40 Day Journey into a Life of Prayer. Read chapter one for free here. She originally published this article on her website- thesoulatrest.com.

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