Monday, March 8, 2010

Longing for Quiet

Lately, I find myself longing for a contemplative service. I've always loved liturgy, but lately, I just want everyone to be quiet.

I got to church yesterday while the choir was still practicing. I wasn't sure I could stay. Our sound system usually doesn't amplify enough, but yesterday we had the opposite problem. Every instrument and every voice seemed much too loud. By the end of the service, my head was throbbing. I had to take some aspirin and lie still in a dark room to recover. And I'm not prone to migraines (a bit prone to headaches, whether they be caused by stress or loudness).

Not for the first time, I found myself wishing that Lutherans had a more contemplative tradition. I just want to sit in silence. Maybe I'll let you interrupt occasionally to read the Word of God. We can do a bit of liturgy to prepare for the Eucharist. But don't bother me with lots of instruments. Don't amplify. It's O.K. to remain in the background.

I know that lots of churches have spent lots of money on sound systems. I know that lots of churches have spent lots of money on grand organs--maybe on whole orchestras. But I can't be the only woman who finds her nerves increasingly jangled, who needs a space of quiet where she can hear God speak.

Those of you who are casting about for your niche in the mission field, hear my whisper! Give me a soothing, contemplative service, and I'm yours--at least occasionally.


Sam said...

I worship in a church that focuses on amplification to stimulate positive emotions; (I mean rock music as opposed to liturgy!) Our ideas of corporate worship is so different!
It'd be an interesting experiment to quieten the music for one or two Sundays and use a few strong quotes or verses to get people to contemplate.
How do you think it'd work?

MaryD said...

Why not? I think more and more Protestant churches are reclaiming contemplation. After all, it was meditation that inspired Martin Luther! I particularly love walking the labyrinth. Somehow, that slow intentional movement seems to heighten spiritual thought.

Sadly, some music directors feel more compelled to performance rather than accompaniment. Also, many ministers are squeamish about silence as well--I suppose because they feel constrained to keep folks entertained. It strikes me as a shame, since having moments embracing quiet and silence is powerful means for deepening spiritual journeys. It also does not stop the expression of faith with music at other times.

Kristin said...

I wouldn't mind a rock music kind of service--then I'd know what to expect. Our service is a blended service which tries to serve everyone--except for those of us with a longing for quiet.

Thank you both for commenting!

Sam said...

Tried introducing what you said in our worship at church (in Delhi, India) yesterday; we fitted a 2 minute "Silence-Time" into our 30 minute worship slot. Some of the congregation got slightly restless :) Well, these things take a bit getting used to, if you aren't used to it.
MaryD, I read up about walking the labyrinth. Never heard about it before. It's not so often we 'quieten our hearts' in public, and I feel doing so would add a new dimension to the way things worship. Can't wait to try it in church, May be during a retreat :)

Kristin said...

Sam, thanks for coming back. Interesting that you've experimented with silence. I'm also interested in labyrinths, particularly in non-Western parts of the world. I've tagged most of my entries that deal with labyrinths with a labyrinth label (I'm assuming you can see the label list at the right).