On a cold, frigid day in February, I stand on the shore of Lake Michigan. Today is a rare day in the Midwest in February. The sun is shining and the air Lake is welcoming. The waves gently caress the shore, softly swaying in and out, like the breath of an infant. The blueness radiates beauty and warmth. The silence fills my ears with soothing music. Oh Lord, my God, my soul searches for you. It pines for you. And you are here. In the beauty. In the silence. In the gentle caress of the waves on the shore. I settle into the beautiful moment, unprepared for its presence. I want to stay here the rest of the day. This welcome surprise brings me joy. I close my eyes and open my heart and soul to what will come.
And then comes the roar of a truck engine as it careens through the parking lot, rudely frightening away the silence that a moment ago was all mine. The moment is gone, banished in an instance. How could this have happened! I collect myself and refocus my thoughts to the beauty, to the peace, but I can no longer find it. The truck roars further into the parking lot, fading into the distance. I anxiously refocus myself on the waves, on the beauty, on the blueness. The waves seem louder and less gentle. The air feels more hostile. I now notice children on the dock laughing and talking. I try again to find that moment that was so beautiful just a few moments ago, but it is lost. Swallowed whole.
As I abandon my efforts and depart from the Lake, I ponder how so often in this time of technology and instantaneous gratification we miss the moments. We miss the silence. We miss being in communion with our maker. Now, of course, God’s hand has touched all of nature. He is always present and his essence is in everything. But it cannot be denied that the hustle and bustle of life impairs our ability to walk with God.
I imagine how wonderful it must have been for Adam to simply walk with God in the Garden of Eden. There were no roaring truck engines, no smart phones, no gun shots, no belligerent screaming. There were no appointments with which to rush. There was just, being. My effort to have a glimpse of this on the shores of Lake Michigan was sweet, but only a moment, only a glimpse of what Adam must have experienced in the Garden.
It is so tempting to embrace the noise and activity of the world. We are, after all, in the world. But why is it so hard to find silence? We have so many duties and obligations. Appointments and meetings. We have to get to work and then do the chores at home. We have family gatherings and holiday parties. And even when we have made every effort to find peace and stillness, we have to tolerate the roar of the truck engine that seemed to intentionally ruin our efforts.
I have heard countless people say that they need to find more time for spiritual activities. I have even said that myself. But this sentiment is quickly followed by the “to do” list and the other items that take precedence over any spiritual activity, no matter how small. We cannot deny the reality that life has many distractions. But what we neglect to consider is the effort that counts in seeking the silence, the communion with God. There will always be distractions and interrupting truck engines. There will always be “to do” lists. But we need to apply this “always” to our seeking after God. We will not always succeed in having unending hours of peace and tranquility with God. How I longed for my five minutes on the beach to have lasted for hours! But what about that five minutes? Did that matter?
The answer to this is unequivocally, yes. Anytime that we can be with God, that we can seek his presence is valuable and valued. The relationship that we desire and should want with our Lord will not be found in video games, text messages, movies, or a sports game. It will not be in blaring music, screaming neighbors, or noisy truck engines.
The relationship that we should want with God will be found in the quiet moments at the beach, in the middle of the night, out in the woods, or in the quiet at adoration. It will be in the moments that seem so fleeting, but these are the ones that we should continually seek after. And it is this continued seeking that will grow our relationship with God. That will continually draw us into his presence. So, while the truck engine ruined my time with God on that February day, it did not take away the seeking that I did, the effort that I made. It did not devalue the time that I did get to spend with God in the silence and beauty of creation. It is my job, our job, to continue seeking.