For the visit of French friends years ago, we made reservations at a Colonial Tavern in town. On arrival, the hostess directed us to the cellar with its round, vaulted stone ceilings. It quickly gave the period ‘feel’ that was intended. We were seated at a large, trestle-style table, unusually wide by today’s standards. At first, we were enjoying our conversation, but the volume of voices in the room seemed to increase greatly as time went on. Soon, we four were leaning across the table, and talking loudly to one another just to hear and be heard. The culprit was a party of about twenty seated at the end of the room. They were celebrating boisterously some happy occasion which we would not deny them, but the ceiling was serving to direct an ample portion of their cheer arching to our table. The decision was made (unanimously) to try and get moved to a quieter location. I went back up to the main entrance and inquired as to whether a more conversation-inducing location might be found, only to be told the restaurant was completely booked for the evening. When I grimaced at the thought of returning with the bad news, the hostess came up with the only solution: we could go outside, to the garden. It being a balmy October evening, I somewhat reluctantly agreed. So, it was back downstairs, delivering the news, gathering our things, and back upstairs, through the restaurant, to the door leading to a lovely rear garden. Walking past the main dining room tables, it was apparent that there was no difference in noise level up here either. Once outside though, with the door closed – there it was – sweet, blessed silence – peace! With our ears still ringing, we all looked at each other in surprise and instantaneously agreed that we had found what our ears had desired. What bliss! We were soon seated under a flowering arbor at a picnic table, and it took a few seconds to adjust our volume to a less strained level. The garden’s utter tranquility was in such stark contrast to the brouhaha inside, we remarked on it multiple times. And to think the solution was found by simply closing a door!
I relate that story because what that experience did for us physically, is what the Prince of Peace invites us into spiritually. In our day, we live with an incredible amount of distressing ‘noise’ in our souls, noise that comes from ‘across the room,’ from familiar sources, from our own narratives, from sources which are intruders, even thieves and miscreants. Our brains acclimate to this ongoing disruption allowing us, for the most part, to tolerate it. But our souls suffer greatly this lack of quiet, this lack of peace in which it thrives. A still-small-voice invitation has little hope of being noticed over the hustle and bustle of this environment. But the invitation is always being sent out: ‘Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.’ The invitation is always seeking that unguarded moment, that moment which shuts down the clamor in order to get clarity, maybe a moment of sorrow or confusion. And when we at last turn toward the Invitation, He gently closes the door. We’ll elaborate tomorrow 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM. PD