Silence or Noise: Finding Balance

The world can be a loud place. 

Did you know that the quietest place on this planet is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota?

It is a noise-measuring room at Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis.  The “official” name for this kind of room is an anechoic chamber; meaning it does not reflect any sound waves whatsoever.  In this room, sound is measured in negative numbers.

Companies and government agencies such as NASA rent this space to test the sound levels of products and such but average people can also rent the space in order to experience what absolute silence is like.

Amid all of the noise and commotion of our daily lives, you might think that a couple of hours in an anechoic chamber is just what you need to find calm and re-center yourself.  

Actually, you may want to save your money because sitting in this room is, in fact, a very difficult experience.  The longest anyone has managed to stay in the room is 45 minutes.  That’s because those who can hear find the lack of sound impossible to endure and are overcome by anxiety.  They have to exit and hear sound, any sound, again.  

We know that our brains have managed to tune out most of the sounds around us so that we can stay focused, but our brains also rely on sound to keep us calm.  Unless you are a member of the deaf community, being without sound can throw you into chaos.  Then again, too much sound does the same thing.

Finding the right balance is what is important.  Some people like a lot of sound—even a lot of noise—in their lives because that is what they’re used to.  Others want things as quiet as possible.  You probably know where you fall on that continuum.  

In the end, the question is: what do you choose to listen to?  Of all of the sounds, of all of the voices, of all of the music, of all of the news outlets, of all of the opinions and marketing and static that is around you, what do you choose to listen to?

Balance is achieved, it seems to me, by starting with God’s presence in your life.  If you listen for and to that presence, things fall into place.  The volume of everything else stays at its proper level.  You are not lost in silence or consumed by noise.  You find a calm focus.  

Yet another reason why worship and devotion should be the starting place for the activity in our lives and our actions in the world.  

See you in church,

–Rev. Dominic