I usually have my television on whenever I'm home. Sometimes there are things I really want to watch, other times it's just background noise (since the boys are not always in a conversant frame of mind once dinner is in their dishes). I've learned a lot from TV, sometimes more than I really wanted to know. At any rate, I do depend on my television for information and entertainment -- and sometimes more than a little aggravation.
Aggravation, or a mild form of it, hit yesterday afternoon when the screen went dark and a message told me that the dish was looking for a satellite signal, which obviously it wasn't finding. This kept up for a couple of hours before I finally turned the thing off (after trying all the self-fixes their website said to try), turned on my iTunes and then called customer support for my dish company. They couldn't fix it remotely either, so I made an appointment for a service call on Monday. Monday? Yes, by my choice. Since the Super Bowl wasn't on my list of "must see" I figured I could hold off my TV addiction until Monday afternoon to avoid a weekend emergency call fee tacked on to the possible repair. Luckily, it was my regular night to have a long conversation with Mouse so I really didn't miss the TV much at all.
This morning I awoke to a quiet house -- not much road noise from the major street about 50 yards from my front door, no thumping and bumping from people around me with supercharged turbo bass speakers and severely impaired hearing, no barking dogs or much of anything else. The quiet was lovely. I enjoy Friday mornings at work for about the first two and a half hours when I have the whole back end of the office to myself and I can just sit and work in silence, but I seldom have the luxury at home. This morning I did, and I did enjoy it. I did try once to see if the TV had returned to normal but since it hadn't, I went off to finish emptying out the closet I started to do yesterday and, by fits, starts and other little jobs done in conjunction with (or just by accident), I got it done. I sat down to the computer, still in silence since even the boys weren't feeling too conversational this morning, and, by habit, reached for the remote and hit "On." Would you believe the signal had returned and the TV was working as if it had never had a glitch or minor meltdown?
Being a good EfM'er, I sat and thought about it for a bit, looking for what culture would say about my not having to have auditory distractions constantly (are you nuts? Being alone with your brain? ICK!), what tradition would say (Jesus had to withdraw now and then to recharge his batteries, and he didn't have an iPod to play int he background while he did it), what my position was (it's really usually just a form of noise to block other noises, informative but not 100% a requirement for my life's enrichment), and what action would come from these musings (try it again sometime, it is really rather pleasant). It did have one other advantage today. An ambulance pulled up to a trailer in the next street, quietly since it was before dawn. Normally I'd dash off an arrow prayer to "Bless those who go and those to whom they go," but in the silence I could actually be a bit more intentional, a little slower in my prayer for those who were involved in whatever emergency there was. I think it reminded me of the value of communities of contemplatives who spend their lives in (predominant) silence so that they can concentrate more on their prayers and their listening for God.
Even though I never have total silence around me (tinnitus is always ringing in my ears), I can plan to take more time away from my satellite dish and television and spend more time in silence. Who knows? I might get some great revelation from the exercise -- or maybe just a little peace. It's worth a shot.