After having lived in Dallas for a year, my fascination with the city had settled into a slow burn much like a pilot light. And yet despite the steady excitement, I found myself growing tired and weary. A dear friend and mentor explained to me that though we find the accoutrements of the city alluring and inspiring, the noise of the place can grate on the soul in a slow and monotonous way. He went on to talk about specific sounds like the roar of jet noise, the blare of sirens, and the never-ending drone of automobiles all around us. As he explained this, I realized that the noise of the city, the sound of the clamor that I had grown to love so much was simultaneously serving a subtly destructive purpose in my soul. My mentor went on to say, “you have to get away from the noise. You have to get into the quiet."
Getting into the quiet has been key for my sanity, my relationship with God, my role as a husband and father, and my vocation as a priest. I find that in the quiet I cannot hide from God. All my stuff is present to me and to Him. And in that moment of presence I realize his love for me in a new way. Oftentimes we cover up the things we’re most ashamed of, the things that scare us about ourselves, the things we can’t explain. But God in his tender compassion invites us to stare down those things and to remember he has taken the sting of them away on the cross. He has literally destroyed them in the death of his Son. And he invites us to step away from those things and into his vision of life for us. A vision of life lived in accordance with his wisdom, his holy word, and in the fullness of his Holy Spirit.
I don’t know what the noise of the city does to you, to your soul. But pay attention to yourself. And take time to step back and step into the quiet. Be present to God and to your stuff. If we can’t allow God to love us and transform us in the quiet, it will be all the more difficult for us to love our city well and seek its welfare and transformation.
I’ll see you Sunday as we continue to pray for, reflect on, and imagine how we can live in God’s presence and live out his love for the city.