Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I spent many of the days during the Christmas season away from my own bed.

A couple of days after Christmas, I drove to Louisiana to spend some time with my Mom and my brother. Christmas with them this year (as it’s become more and more each year) was less about the pressure of gifts – who got what, and the accompanying tension of “Did I get them enough?” “Was it what they wanted? “Do they need that?” “Do they like it?” Honestly, it’s a good feeling and a good progression toward a more authentic celebration of the Child. The fellowship was good and warm and all that is supposed to be with family.

Expectations are high for the season though, aren’t they? And, almost without fail, they aren’t met in full. That’s ok.
Every year that passes reminds me that we don’t live in one of those Norman Rockwell paintings. While lowering expectations in some cases might indicate compromises of undesirable proportions, in others, they just help you accept the way things are in your life, accept the people in your life for who they are and enjoy the innumerable blessings that are all around.

I slept in the “front room” at my mother’s house – the house I grew up in. Three or four feet from the head of the bed, there is a window air-conditioner that makes the greatest noise! This room is where my grandmother stayed when I was a boy. My brother and I occupied the “middle room”. The middle room had its own air-conditioner that, again, roared me to sleep every night of my youth.

When I first took up residence in a place with a whisper quiet central air unit, it took me a while to get used to the stillness and the silence – a silence that allowed every crack and pop from the outside world to startle me and keep me awake.

I’ve slept in thousands of beds in hotels all over the world and one of the first things I take note of when I enter a room is what kind of air-conditioning unit there is in the room. Is it the kind that stays on, fan running all the time, or is it one of those wall units that turn off and on a dozen times a night. Is there a fan in the bathroom that can mask some of the outside noises? Do I have my earplugs??

For those of you that can fall asleep anywhere, anytime I guess this doesn’t make any sense at all. Count your blessings. The rest of us don’t like you.

Many years ago, I discovered “the noise machine”. Now, they’re kind of generic and lots of companies make them. Basically, they produce a wide range of sounds – anything from nature sounds to “white noise” (sort of like the sound of a radio dial tuned to nothing).

I’ve experimented with lots of different settings on my little machine. I’ve tried to sleep to the sounds of waves crashing (too dramatic), gentle seaside sounds (stupid seagulls!), waterfalls (undesirable in that it makes for more trips to the …well, you get the idea).

Through all the trial and error, I always come back to simple “white noise”. This little device that makes a soothing noise makes every hotel sound the same. It masks the outside noises that intrude upon a good night’s sleep. If I find I’ve left home without it, I panic just a little bit.

You have to choose what you’re going to listen to and what you’re going to hear. Shutting out some of the noise might be one good goal this year. At least consider being more selective about what you listen to. The mute button on the television remote is a great accessory. Use it. It’s a noisy world and there are some things that have no welcome place in my ears.

There are news stories I don’t want to watch. There is language that I don’t want to hear. There are pictures of life that, while they might be authentic and real, I don’t want recorded in my mind’s sight.

Filters are good. My prayer for this year is that God will still whisper to me when to listen and when to not listen, when to look and when to turn away or close my eyes, when to speak and when to shut my mouth. I will defer to Him for the things that enter my heart. Like a carnival barker on a midway, the world throws it’s stuff my way. I don’t have to buy it.

God, give us discernment, ears to hear You – Eyes to see You and hearts that are willing to act in noble and good ways for Your sake. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Have you ever written songs? Because you are a tremendously insightful young man!

Great stuff, Wayne!