In a noisy world, God is found in quiet moments
Even though Hurricane Isaac bypassed the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., a political storm is lashing the U.S.
Primary season is culminating in lavish and brash party conventions. What little calm that might have preceded the storm is long past.
All the slung mud, balloon drops, multimedia noise and ubiquitous yard signs hold a parallel with Elijah’s experience in 1 Kings 19.
On Horeb, the mountain of God, the Lord passed by. A great wind tore apart mountains and shattered rocks. Then came an earthquake. Then a fire.
But the Lord was not in any of these. God was in the sheer silence that followed.
In Minneapolis, Orfield Laboratories runs what is known as the quietest place on Earth. Its “anechoic chamber” is a steel room lined with immense fiberglass wedges, surrounded by 12-inch-thick concrete. Fully 99.9 percent of all sounds are eliminated before they reach the room. As the wedges swallow anything within, ambient noise registers at -9.4 decibels.
The room allows engineers to test products in an environment virtually devoid of other noises. People can also experience the hushed space. Lab president Steven Orfield said it only takes minutes for the silence to become disorienting.
“In the anechoic chamber, you don’t have any cues,” he said. “You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and maneuver.”
Turning off the lights magnifies the effect. Auditory and visual hallucinations set in. No one has lasted more than 45 minutes.
Medieval philosopher and theologian Meister Eckhart wrote that “God is not attained by a process of addition to anything in the soul, but by a process of subtraction.”
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