The Pauses and the Notes

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.
— St Teresa of Calcutta


We are currently in a world where the great wisdom of our parents' generation does not cover the communication and technology of today.  I love technology, and it is proven to be great in education and communication. But I think we are learning by trial and error that digital communication is actually becoming a barrier to authentic relationships with the very people God places in our lives. We live in a time where we communicate so much, we never miss a thing. Yet, there is something missing.

I have experienced times when I noticed myself getting lost in digital communication. I’ll admit it.  I can start with checking a message on my phone and find five other 'blinking light' notifications. I start going through them and feel this small sense of accomplishment as if I have completed a task. I love thinking I have mastered all the lights and sounds on my devices. There was a time when there was not a baby photo, friend on vacation, or news update I had not seen.  I felt completely informed -- sometimes, even over-informed.

Then I would look up to talk to my semi-adult children, and see they too have their faces down in their phones or tablets or laptops. So while I would wait for at least one of them to be done, I would go back to my phone to communicate with someone. And then when I am typing away, one of my children would look up and see me with my face down looking at my phone again and the cycle repeats.  Now, do we make fun of each other over this and keep each other in check? Absolutely. However, I am well aware that if we don’t make a concerted effort to stop ourselves, we'll forget how to talk to the people sitting in the same room as us.

Why do we do it? Is it fear of missing out (FOMO)? Or are we afraid of old fashioned awkward silences or family discussions that make every teenager cringe?

I miss pre-digital shared experiences. Even if the experience was, “Mom, I am so bored.” Or, “The walls in this room are so dated.”  Or, “Mom! Stop singing. It’s embarrassing.”

When we let the silence enter our morning coffee routine, our commutes on transit, or sitting on the back porch waiting for supper, we allow things to happen.

One of the most famous Jazz musicians in history, Miles Davis, used to say: "It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play."

Like in music, the pauses are just as important as the notes in our life. Sometimes the spaces in-between our human interactions are where the magic happens. It is where peace happens. Where true joy finds a home. It is where we find freedom. And, yet, we all seem to be so impatiently wanting to fill this void; and out pops a digital device.

We need the pauses to listen, reflect and see how God is working through us to serve His people.  We need to have more shared experiences - even if it is shared silence. God does not want us to be bored. He wants us not only to communicate with each other, but experience every eye roll and little smile that happens in the silent pauses. He wants us to see every tense moment, every broken moment, every joyful moment, every birth of a moment. He wants us to see what He sees. And these amazing moments are found in the pauses.  The pauses are His gift to us.

God wants you to be fully engaged and alive in this world, not observing the staged, photographed, curated and over edited lives of others.  We need to get used to silent pauses without the need to fill them. It is in the pauses that we experience so many riches of the life He gave us!  Without the pauses to interact with each other and God, the feelings that you just can’t put your finger on start to look like loneliness from not being fully engaged in this life.

Digital devices can be a tool. But I don’t believe He ever wants us to become a slave to them. He probably won't ask you to abandon them, but He would ask you to sacrifice a note, take a beat, take a pause.  He is there waiting for you in the pause.

Let’s start lovingly communicating while having the greatest appreciation of the pauses between the notes in life! Find God’s silent gifts in the pauses.


Mary Helen Moes