For the past three years, our family has lived in a house right next to a massive, ancient cathedral in the middle of our city. On Sunday morning, the bells gloriously peal out, telling us it is time for church and filling my heart with joy. The hourly toll each day often catches me off guard as I count and realize this day is passing faster than I had calculated.
People ask if I mind the bells, and mostly, I love them. Except on Monday nights. From 7:30-9:30 p.m. each Monday, the bell ringers practice. It is loud, repetitive, and so long. Sometimes we forget and host a Monday night meeting at our home only to regret having to speak above the constant noise. Getting my 6-year-old to fall asleep takes twice as long. The bells clang obnoxiously on these practice nights, making it difficult to think, converse, or be still.
They also bring to mind other types of noise I allow into my life, namely busyness. Filling up my calendar with events, distractions, and perceived obligations makes it challenging to find time to have meaningful conversations, meditate on Scripture, and sit in God’s presence. During the height of the pandemic, all bell ringing stopped at the cathedral and so did the busy. I learned to embrace the silence and insert new rhythms of stillness into my daily life.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7). When there is a lot of banging and clanging of activities, people-pleasing, and carting myself out the door to yet another event, I do not have the time to be still before the Lord and wait on Him for the life-changing gift of His presence.
The bells are back now, as well as many opportunities to fill up my calendar. Yet, when those bells ring, I remind myself not to allow the old patterns of noise to crowd out much needed times of quiet before the Lord.
How might you dial down the ‘noise’ in your daily life and embrace the stillness your soul seeks this week and beyond?
Many years ago a wise elder at our church said “if the devil can’t make you bad, he makes you busy”. He passed away recently but those words I’ll never forget. They were wise indeed.