There's a cacophony of noise going on in my head. There are a thousand conversations happening, all at the same time, about everything. Or about nothing. A thousand? Sometimes it's ten thousand. Sometimes it's infinity. The sound swells and recedes like the ceaselessness of the ocean. I can't remember the last time my head wasn't filled with sound.
I would really like for the noise to stop.
That's a wish pulled from the depths of my earliest memories (and I have a memory bordering on the ancient, trust me): please, just make the noise-- that dull, droning, sub-vocalized, just-at-the-edge-of-hearing noise that sets your teeth on edge and your skin buzzing-- make that noise stop. Please. That may be my wish, perhaps my prayer. Thing is, I've never been quite patient enough to wait. I've never been trusting enough to believe that my prayer would be answered (at least, not answered with a "Certainly, Stacey, coming right up!"), or my wish granted. I've always felt the need to help it along.
And help it I did. At least, that was the plan. I threw everything I could at the problem, mostly none of it healthy. Addiction is an insidious creature, whispering of a redemption bought with self-destruction. One more seductive voice (in a myriad of voices) added to the chaos in my head, and I chased that siren song with desperation-tinged despair that I could have sworn was hope.
But that was long ago and far away. Right? Right?
Still a wish. Still a prayer: please make the noise in my head stop. And I still step right up, to fix it, all on my own. And every time I shoulder the burden of my own prayer, all I manage to do is turn the amps up. To eleven.
God, but it's noisy in here. It's an ocean of sound and I am drowning in it. Writing helps, some. Singing, too. And prayer. I still have a few dark and twisty places inside, so that my manic attempts aren't always quite so healthy as that. They all tamp it down, make it less whinging and relentless, bring some melody to the disparate notes I hear. That I always hear.
How ironic, then, that the prompt for today, day nine of this holy month of Elul is Hear. Hear? You have got to be kidding me. All I do is hear, ceaselessly, endlessly without respite. All I want is quiet, a moment of silence, a chance to breathe, to think, to be. Just be.
But this is Elul, and I am called to use a different lens through which to pass my all this: to bend ideas just a little, so that the light reflects and shines differently than before. So that I can see-- or hear-- a new song. And when I do, when I bend all those voices through the prism of Elul, something new:
I am terrified of silence.
I am afraid to get that quiet, quiet enough so that I can really hear. Really hear the sound of my heart, the song of my soul, the music of God. To be still, to be quiet, to hear-- myself. To hear my hope, my despair, my prayer. And then to wait, in quiet stillness, to hear God's answers. To let the fear go, in my quiet, that there will be nothing there, a cavernous, echoing silence, to realize, in fact, that I am alone.
I surround myself with noise-- a great cacophony, a glorious, messy din, so that I can avoid hearing my fear. I avoid the breathtaking beauty of silence. And for all of that, I miss out on the brilliant sound between the notes-- and it is there that God's voice lives.
So, on this ninth day of Elul, I am given (I offer?) a new prayer: please-- let me learn quiet enough to listen, let me find courage enough to be still so that I can hear, finally, the music between the notes.
And into that glorious stillness, I will say "amen."