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I roll the window down, letting the first waves of fresh air roll over me. You don’t realize how stale airport air is until you gulp in the first tart lung full outside.

He eases onto the freeway and our words fill the car. It’s the conversation of practical strangers who have a passion in common. I tell him how much I enjoyed learning a second language. He grins because he was the person who did my language orientation three years ago.

One second we’re trading language mistake stories and the next it’s only his quiet voice filling the car. Of a trip a few weekends ago. Of a friend and former coworker in an African country. Of long days and longer nights their families spent together, seeing the Kingdom come on earth. Of desperate prayer and of children still broken regardless. Of his promise to pray for them still. Of her response. “I don’t think it’ll do much good.”

The car goes quiet. Because there is no witty comeback to that. No appropriate story with which to rejoin. He glances over. I’m glad it’s dark.

***

A bomb explodes and we make a response. A career is wrecked by scandal and we pontificate. A tragic shooting followed by Youtube videos and timelines and editorials. Someone states their opinion and we cannot wait to scream their wrongness AS LOUDLY AS ALL CAPS WILL LET US.

Didn’t we used to have moments of silence? Pause our mouths as flags flew at half-mast? Have an instinct that told us that on a day of tragedy, updating Facebook might not be a necessity? Close the day peering into the darkness outside as the house fell quiet? A moment in which we actually listened to the other’s point of view?

It’s no wonder meditation is becoming a popular remedy to recommend. In a world where everything from background music to our friended friends to the child in front of us is screaming for a piece of our attention, why wouldn’t ten minutes of silence be welcomed?

Drunk on noise, have we lost the instincts to know one more is a bad idea?

***

His mouth opens, but closes without a word. The next few miles pass in the sound of night breeze filling the car, the dignity of a grief observed. It makes us less strangers than another story ever could.

You don’t realize how stale noise has become until you gulp in the first tart moments of silence.

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