Silencing Distractions: Practical Lenten Advice

Our lives are typically filled with so much noise and though much of this occurs in the larger environment where we cannot control it, there are other sources of noise that we willingly allow into our lives. These noises, from seemingly innocuous sources like the television, computers,and radio, can actually help us avoid dealing with uncomfortable thoughts and emotions.  If we know, for example, that our son or daughter is struggling in school and needs a parental intervention, and we are reluctant to engage in that conversation, it is easier to simply allow the distraction of the evening news to help us disengage from what needs to be done.  There are times when we need a little distance from our immediate problems, and TV and the rest are appropriate.  However, using noise as a distraction can be more harmful than good because we run the risk of numbing ourselves to what really needs our full attention.  During this Lenten journey especially, we may be experiencing God’s call to go deeper beneath the surface of our lives so that we can find healing and wholeness and integration. Distracting ourselves with talk-radio, television, or other background noises can prevent us from finding insight and closure to issues that need attention. 
Noise as a distraction can affect us in many ways. It can help us stay numb to emotions that we do not want to feel, allow us an easy way to avoid dealing with problems, distract us from having to pray and think, and make it easier for us to postpone dealing with the truth of given situations. Drowning out the thoughts and emotions we find uncomfortable or overwhelming can complicate our issues because it allows them to fester. By choosing to turn off the noise and enter the silence, we creat the space to experience and express what we are hiding, and what God is particularly desirous of us to resolve. It is only then that self-exploration can begin in earnest and we can stare down even the most intimidating issues. In silence, it becomes easier to let our strongest, deepest feelings come forth, deal with them, and find new ways of interacting with them and the larger reality of our existence. 

When we go within,  without the veil of noise to shield us from ourselves, we will be able to figure out exactly what it is we need to heal. Embracing silence and introspection allows us to work through our thoughts and emotions and, in offering them humbly to God, we find ways to transfigure them into something life-giving. Free of the need for noise, we can come to a place of deep acceptance, where all our pain, anger, and frustration can surface and be resolved into grace-filled opportunities in service of God’s Reign. 

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About frmichelrcc

I have a degree in religious studies from the University of Wisconsin, did graduate work in theology at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, and also at St. Paul's University in Ottawa. I have been a Benedictine since I first professed as an oblate in 1982, making final profession in 2009. I have worked as vocations director in a large diocese in the mid-west and am a spiritual director in the Benedictine tradition. I have 3 sons, one of whom is now in God's loving embrace in eternity, and 2 grandsons, Bradley and Jacob.
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