FAITH: It’s Good To Have Quiet Time

Article contributed by the family of the late Rev. Bill H. Lassiter (pictured)

I don’t know why, but kids love to visit noisy places. Loud music, lots of games, and lots of other kids. Some of us adults frequent these places, too. For some reason a lot of birthday parties are held in such places. It is usually highly efficient, good food, but mass confusion if you’re trying to carry on normal conversation.

One such place has a particular game which is rather fascinating. There is a table-like setup with little monkey heads sticking up. The player is given a small mallet to try to hit all the monkeys on the head as they pop up, and before they withdraw. You get points for each one you hit. I suppose it’s a good way to relieve tension. And it doesn’t seem to hurt anything. But it adds to the noise.

When I visit a place like that, I come out less than relaxed. I eat faster. My head hurts. My ears ache. I am a long way from being relaxed. The echoes continue to reverberate.

Jesus was surrounded by noise. The crowds followed him. The disciples were asking questions. Sometimes they were arguing. Jesus would slip off by himself. He went to the mountains to get away from the noise. There he could pray and meditate.

We all need times like that. I guess we need the noisy times, too. Laughter and fun and shared friendship are important. I believe God looks at moments like that and smiles. Maybe he even laughs. Jesus has shared with him what it’s like to be human. Jesus has told him all about life here in this realm. And God often can be experienced in the happiness of a child enjoying a party with friends. Being quiet and reflective has its spiritual moments as well.

We don’t have to pound on something to gain release from tension and stress. It’s good to have those quiet moments when we simply reflect on God’s goodness to us. Thomas Merton wrote once, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

In reflective moments we can take aim at the noisy monkeys which sit on our shoulders. They are there to distract us. In times of prayer they interfere. They just seem to pop into our minds. They may be persons with whom we have relational problems. They may be unreached goals. It may even be a computer we don’t understand. As these monkeys appear in our meditative moments, it may be God’s way of reminding us to pray about the monkeys.

Visiting the Memphis Zoo some years ago, I heard the screeching sound of a particular kind of monkey. I had never heard that sound before. All the other animals were quieted when these monkeys spoke. I made my way to their cage. The bottom of their throats ballooned out when they shrieked. It magnified the noise they made.

We all have to deal with these monkeys. Some are crying out for attention. Some are just popping up from time to time to interfere with our focus. We have to remove ourselves from time to time to replenish our spiritual energies. Like Jesus, Peter, James and John, we go back down in the valley to do His work.