Silence

I just read the most liberating article! It was all about silence, and study results stating that in mice, two hours of silence a day actually grew new brain cells.

“When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.” (Science says Science is Much More Important to our Brains than we Think | Lifehack.Org)

My husband loves noise. He prefers music on when he’s studying, the volume of the radio in the car after he drives it for errands is always a surprise to me. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to explain why I’m comfortable with silence. But I finally figured it out one day – he’s also an audio tech so I said, “It’s like every single channel on the stage is live and at the same level, no mixing!”

When I get into the car to go run errands by myself, 98% of the time I do it in complete silence. The silence is a balm to my soul.

There have been times in my life where the incessant voices of the little people around me feel like literal blows around my head. There are four little people in this house and they all have a pretty fantastic ability to spill out words. They want to share their thoughts with me… in an overlapping rotation, so that dinnertime is often just a constant circular “passing of the talking stick” as everyone takes their turn to speak their piece!

When I read this article today, I felt justified for my craving for silence. Quiet is a repair tool. It’s a space where your brain can contemplate and make new connections, and it’s very healthy.

Pretty sure we’re going to be implementing Quiet Time in our home education efforts.

The next step in my thought process was to remember that Quiet Time is also a powerful devotional tool.

Almost as if there’s no such thing as “coincidence,” but only “providence,” this little nugget passed in my newsfeed yesterday:

My dear Wormwood,

I am distressed to hear that you have been unable to prevent your human from reading the Enemy’s book. You really must try harder to nip this development in the bud. At this point, your best strategy to regain lost ground is to shift her priorities and crowd out her reading time with other things. It really is a very simple recipe. Just add plenty of distractions disguised as duties, and then agitate your human.

Humans cannot see as we do; we are privileged to view things which are invisible to them. We can see how few things are really necessary, but to them, the world seems to be overflowing with deadlines and urgent tasks. Your first priority should be to enslave your human to the Urgent. Begin with her legitimate daily tasks and work from there: housework, cooking, dishes, shopping, errands, emails, phone calls, etc. Make her feel the most urgency about jobs with immediate, visible results (you’ll find it’s easy to fool humans into ignoring invisible things}. The more urgent you can make a task seem, the better; it doesn’t matter how trivial it really is from an eternal standpoint. (In the good old days I had scores of women enslaved to finishing large quantities of ironing; even handkerchiefs and pillowcases! Sadly, no one seems to care about wrinkles any more, at least not on fabrics.)

Once legitimate tasks have assumed great urgency in your human’s mind, you can begin slipping in more and more “clickbait,” and she will hardly notice. Use your skills of deception! I must say this has been one of our infernal army’s greatest triumphs; look around and you will see examples everywhere. Haven’t you ever seen a father leave a life-changing discussion with his son to answer a call from a telemarketer? Or a woman feeling compelled to look at dinging text alerts during her prayer time? Very few humans are focused enough on the invisible battle to hold their post in the face of a good “urgent” distraction.

Beware of the early morning hours; they naturally have fewer distractions, and they set the tone for the entire day. I know of whole families that have been lost to the kingdom below because the mother began getting up a half-hour early every day to study the Enemy’s book and pray. Our best defensive strategy is to keep humans from putting on their armor and sharpening their weapons. Be vigilant, and by Beelzebub, don’t let your human start the day by picking up her sword! If you keep her from forming that habit, you will suffer far fewer wounds and defeats.

Remember, the main thing is to agitate your human with many “urgent” tasks and distractions all day, but make sure she doesn’t see the big picture of eternal priorities. If you do it right, your human will not even suspect that something is missing. She will either be congratulating herself on getting so much done or else castigating herself for not having finished it all. Or, most delicious of all, she may even resent someone else for not helping her. Meanwhile, you will have distracted her from the enemy’s true priorities. Like Martha, busy slaving in the kitchen, but missing the real feast.

Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape

Another letter of advice from the old demon Screwtape to his apprentice nephew Wormwood, INSPIRED by C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters.

Doesn’t that just give you prickle hairs?! (That’s a term for “chills” in case “prickle hairs” isn’t in your normal vocabulary line up.)

There have been seasons of my life when the idea of getting up early in front of the rest of the family feels like an insurmountable mission. In fact, it’s really the milk goat that keeps me on a consistent schedule right now.

But I can tell you, the joy of being in my house while the occupants are asleep, when the unseen sense of it all is bursting with expectation for the day to come… it’s beautiful! And being able to pray over the coming day has been amazing.

I’m working through this book as I wrestle with the unrelenting need of homeschooling and childrearing alongside the equally impressive need to find significance in every moment. It might also appeal to you: Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Every Day Life | Tish Harrison Warren

May your day have a period of uninterrupted silence… and may that silence not be a time of refreshment rather than an indicator that your kids are trying to flush the cat down the toilet or facepaint using the laundry detergent.

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