When the Israelites stood at Mount Sinai, legend tells us that God sounded the shofar Himself to call the world to attention. The noise was so loud, so powerful, and so awesome that the world trembled. All eyes and ears turned to the mountain to behold the revelation, and as ear-splitting as the blast of the horn was, it was matched by the deafening silence that followed as the universe waited with baited breath for God to continue.
Absent divinely-blown shofarot, it is impossible to find such utter quietude in our lives- each of us knows the challenges of unplugging and finding peace in the age of overstimulation. Outside of our work and everyday lives, even Shabbat can be filled with the business and decibels of prayer, community, celebration, and eating.
Last week, as the terrible news of the world kept escalating in its seriousness and awfulness, and my schedule and demands on my time followed a similar trajectory, I arrived home last Wednesday night and just sat in silence, watching my son read a book, being completely content with the lack of anything to do, listen to, watch, or engage with. At least for those thirty minutes, I had nothing that I was going to do other than be quiet and appreciate the opportunity to be at rest.
Tonight I will go to sleep and turn off the television or my device-of-the-moment and sleep a sleep that will be unique, because other than the occasional plow that will rumble past my house, there is nothing like the absolute quiet of a snowstorm. The entire world is softened. Quieted. Muffled. Understated. Tamed.
And while economists and talking heads will post-mortem the storm and talk about the billions of dollars in lost GDP and lost hours of workers’ productivity, I will have a completely different take, an appreciation of how for once, there was nothing in the way of finding some moments of pure and utter silence.
Tomorrow they will be there for the taking. Grab them if you can, because they don’t happen that often.