A cross-country trip sets the stage for a heartfelt conversation between God and a road-weary traveler.
They say silence is golden. I beg to differ. My best writing occurs when iTunes serenades me. Prior to COVID, my most productive workouts happen in a loud, crowded gym with music blaring. And my most peaceful slumber takes place when a loud fan blows near me. Get rid of any of these noises and the silence is deafening.
Clearly, I’ve succumbed to the always-on, always-on-the-go world. I’ve had a cell phone, iPod, or laptop in my hand longer than I have not, and when silence surrounds me, it usually means one of these things isn’t working. And that’s a problem. A real problem. But on a recent road trip, I decided to see if I could figure out what “they” were talking about. For as long as I could last, I drove in complete silence.
Luckily, the surrounding landscape was interesting enough to keep me preoccupied with taking it all in. That lasted five minutes. A tree is a tree is a tree. I moved on to updating my mental to-do list. Fifty to-dos later, with an anxiety level so high it took all of my power not to drive my car into one of those trees, it was time to move on to something else.
What to do next? I knew all along what I should be doing in this silence, what I hear is best done when it’s quiet—prayer. But more often than not, my attempts at prayer—real, intense, thoughtful prayer—have failed miserably. Uncontrollable laughter or that ominous mental to-do list always blocks my path.
Practice Makes Perfect?
It started off slowly. I relied on the oldies but goodies to get me going, but eventually I shied away from the rehearsed lines and found my own voice. This time, my own thoughts, questions, fears, concerns, wonders—you name it—filled the void.
My mind went to this quote from Pope Francis: Let us learn to keep silence before him, as we meditate upon the Gospel. If we are to know the Lord, we must go to him. Listen to him in silence before the Tabernacle and approach him in the sacraments.
My car became a holy place during that road trip. It might have been silent in my car, but God and I had quite the conversation. I’ll admit, I didn’t make it the entire trip in silence. A good conversation can last only so long, and eventually I was back to my tunes and texts. But for at least a little while, I saw silence’s golden sheen.
And in it, I heard God speaking to me the loudest.