Lady Pastor: Overfilled ears can make your head spin

Noise pollution is defined by Wikipedia as "disturbing or excessive noise that may harm the activity or balance of human or animal life."

Generally it comes in the form of motor vehicles, airplanes, trains and machinery (and, perhaps in this region, Canadian geese). But, as I am discovering lately, noise pollution can also come from within … disturbing and excessive internal clatter can cause plenty of harm, too.

Sometimes my ears are so full of noise from outside sources and inside sources that I forget the sound of silence.

Last weekend, the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly was held at Mayo Civic Center. About 600 Lutherans gathered together for worship, fellowship, and the business of the church.

I helped manage the technological side of the event from the booth in the back of the main assembly hall with a headset over my ears. The headset kept the whole crew of outstanding audio, lighting, and visual technicians connected. I'm new to the A/V world and in complete awe of how these professionals stay calm enough to attend to so many details simultaneously.


There was one point during the event when I was aware of four sources of incoming sound at the same time: the keynote speaker on the main stage, the sound engineer speaking through the headset resting on my right ear, a person in the tech booth speaking to me through my left ear, and two men speaking to one another just outside the doorway. My ear canals were overloaded with words, ideas, and directions to process.

It occurred to me that this sensation of audial overload was not so unfamiliar. In fact, listening to four outside sound sources at the same time seemed like a perfect analogy for my internal ecosystem as of late. One inner voice keeping a running tally of need-to-be-completed tasks, another more critical voice keeping a record of every trespass I've committed, another keeping a record of every trespass committed against me, and a final inner voice spouting off affirmations in the hopes of holding it all together. It's so much noise. Perhaps you, too, have had seasons in life when the internal clamor was especially zealous.

On Mother's Day, my mom, Pam, and I took a walk along the Mayowood trail. We admired the bluebells as they hung on for a few final days of springtime glory. As we walked in quiet reverence, I heard the sound of my own breathing for the first time in months. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. And then I heard the wind rushing through the brand new leaves swinging in the tall trees overhead. It had been months since I'd heard the wind, too.

In a world of noise (both good and not-so-good), it is a precious miracle to reacquaint oneself with quiet spaces. May you find moments this week in which you are able to turn down the volume of life. And in that quiet space, may you tune in again to the gentle whispers of your creator.

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