Monday, August 8, 2011
“…after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing… -1Kings 19:12
I slept terrible last night. A storm knocked out our electricity and I need noise to sleep well. I’ll get into the origins of my malady later, but the “noise handicap” is there. Jeanie, my wife of 30 years, is the opposite. She likes it quiet and calm. Our compromise (sort of) is the air cleaner I turn on every night in our bedroom. The constant “buzz” lures me to sleep like a baby. Needing noise isn't good but teaching our kids to live with “the quiet” is a great thing. The truth is, when I lose power, I need the noise. Or do I?
My theory is this: I grew up on SAC Air Force bases. I was born at Rhein-Main Air Force base in Wiesbaden, Germany at the height of the cold war. Those high profile air force bases were pretty phenomenal. Huge B-52 jets, loaded with nuclear bombs, were literally taking off 24 hours a day everyday. From 1946 until 1992, the United States had enough firepower in the air, at any given moment, to launch nuclear strikes against multiple sites all across the Soviet Union (in defense of course). So I stayed awake or learned to sleep with noise. As a child, I learned to live and sleep with the racket.
There is so much noise in our world today. There are so many distractions. For the youth leaders and camp directors of the world, it presents challenges. What used to impress kids years ago, initiates a bored yawn today. In the computer filled, entertainment-based world we live in today, the more noise the better, or is it worse?
Maybe a gift lies beyond the power outage. Maybe, when all the electronics are turned off, whatever is left is worth cultivating. Could it be that all the “I- somethings” are really just distractions away from the simpler, quieter and longer lasting noises? Could it be that when the power goes off another power takes its place? But the transition in our kids comes slowly. It requires us to guide our kids to the alternate power.
That’s where grandparents play a huge role, simply because they don't have the “gadgets.” I loved going to Granny and Papa’s farm in Georgia. Why? Because there I could go to the hen house and bring eggs back for breakfast. There I could play in the barn and run in the fields. There I could take a bath in an old-fashioned bath tub. I didn't need to plug any of those things in the wall but they were powerful to me.
Think creatively about your kids and whether you’re willing to do some unplugging. I’m not suggesting we do away with TV and games. They’re okay in moderation and fun for kids (and adults). But I am challenging us to be creative. Take your kids on canoe trips, go Geocaching, go hiking, go camping, go fishing, go, go, go. Get away from the electronic noise to the stillness and quiet of God’s amazing creation. Yes, it takes more time. But it’s powerful.
Try unplugging the power cords and experience something more powerful than any noise can provide. Experience God’s creation through nature and have a blast.
You may not sleep as well, but getting used to the quiet is worth it.
By Eric Joseph Staples©