I don’t have kids, but I know what the drill is for many parents.
Up at 6, make breakfast, pack the lunches, get the kids up and dressed, pile everyone into the car, wolf down your own breakfast while driving, drop them off at school and then head to work.
Rush through the day with meetings, in-boxes overflowing, phones ringing, emails begging to be answered and deadlines looming.
Ferry the kids after school to soccer or tennis or Scouts, throw together supper, supervise homework, get the kids to bed and collapse on the sofa for a few hours of TV. Up the next day and do it again.
I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
What’s missing is a sliver of down time, a delicious oasis of peace in the midst of a day that is all about rushing (“We’re going to be late!”) and shouting (“Who let the hamster out?”) and listening to the latest disasters unfolding on the news, whether it’s storms or scandals or sequesters.
Comes Sunday, and what happens? You go to church, and it seems like an extension of your crazy week.
For many, there are Power Point presentations, videos, pitches from the pulpit for the latest programs, slews of songs, but never, ever, the one thing your heart desires, which is a moment when it all stops.
A moment when no one says a word and no one sings a note. A moment of peace.
Perhaps if the noise ceased, we might hear another voice, very quiet, and almost shy. We might get to breathe deeply and say a few things to God we’ve wanted to say all week. Instead, before you know it, you’re headed home and yelling at the crowd in the backseat: “Don’t make me stop the car!”
Has church become another form of entertainment in a world accustomed to clicking on 100 stations on the tube? Are we afraid of silence? Terrified of what radio stations call “dead time,” when all the yammering stops?
I’m not talking about sitting there for an hour without saying a word. I’m not even talking about 20 minutes. How about five for starters?
As Cardinal Francis Arinze, who has written many books on respectful liturgy, puts it, “Silence serves to allow people to praise God and pray to him in their hearts.”
Still, even during Communion time, the most sacred moment of the week, many churches unleash a steady storm of songs, so every second is filled with sound. Surely I’m not the only one who wants to shout, “Would everyone please, with all due respect, shut up?”
I don’t mean the babies. They can squeak and gurgle and shriek as much as they want. Their little voices are precious to God.
It was Mother Teresa who so beautifully noted, “In the silence of the heart God speaks.” It would be nice if we could take a moment to hear him.
Lorraine has written two laugh-out-loud mysteries about the strange goings on at a fictional church in Georgia — “Death in the Choir” and “Death of a Liturgist.” Her email is email@example.com Follow her on Twitter @lorrainevmurray