Sound between the notes
There’s a cacophony of noise going on in my head, a clanking clattering collection of caliginous junk that sets my teeth on edge and makes my skin buzz. There are a thousand conversations happening, about everything, all at once. Or about nothing, all at once. 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 trust me — I have a memory bordering on the freakish, that could be compared to elephants and the madmen who carry grudges and fan the fires of bloddy feuds and bloodier vendetta): 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 maelstrom 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.
All I do is hear, ceaselessly, endlessly without respite. And all I want is quiet, a moment of silence, a chance to breathe, to think, to be. Just be.
I say this, pray this, desperately hope for the grace of this. And all the while, I harbor a secret fear. And sometimes, the noise in my head is loud enough, all echo-y and whisper-y and discordant and driven by my ghosts —
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. But here’s the thing. The glorious thing, filled with wonder and light: For a minute or ten, every so often, there is this awesome — not silence, but, I think, but quiet. It doesn’t last, mostly. I blink, or breathe, or maybe I just don’t pay attention enough, don’t nurture that calm and quiet enough, Or maybe I do too much, and try to hold it captive, like a butterfly pinned to a black velvet board, and so we’re back to cacophony. Sigh.
But for all of that, I get glimpses. I hear the whispered brilliance of the sound between the notes — and it is there that God’s voice lives.
And into that glorious stillness, that in-between space of holiness and God, I will say “amen.”