The world is noisy. Even when alone, our phones chime with notifications and reminders. There is little place for peace and quiet.
Recently I was driving through town making my way through a detailed shopping list. The music was loudly accompanying my travels. BB King was singing, “You better not look down, if you want to keep on flying. Put the hammer down; keep it full speed ahead.”
I looked up to see the sun beginning to set.
I put my list aside and drove a few extra miles to a dead end street where I could watch the sun set over the Long Island Sound. Why not spend a few extra minutes and watch nature unfold? I secretly added something new to my list. “Take a beautiful picture. Post it to Instagram.”
After ten minutes I pulled up to the street. I ignored the sign that warned, “No parking.” I sat in the car for a few moments and looked. I turned off the engine. I stepped out of the car. I turned back. I almost forgot to grab my phone for the photo. I lined up the frame, attempting to frame the lighthouse in the orange of the setting sun. I thought, “Should I take a selfie as well?”
I returned to my car. “Beautiful,” I said out loud. The sun turned to red. Its colors danced on the water. It was low tide. I watched as the birds sailed across the waters. I stepped out of my car again. I left my phone on the seat. I did not turn back.
A breeze touched my face. I breathed in. I closed my eyes.
And I listened.
I could hear the birds dropping clams on the rocks in order to crack open their shells. The crickets chirped loudly in anticipation of the approaching darkness. The waves gently lapped at the tall grass on the shore.
A revelation. I heard the sunset.
Peace is not the absence of noise. It is sensing the stillness of a breeze. It is gaining a sense of wholeness.
I cannot silence the world’s noise. Perhaps that should not be the goal. Instead I can gain peace. I can touch God’s world if I but listen.
A smile crossed my face. And there was peace for a brief moment.
The world’s noise sings, and dances, in unison. The world is indeed at peace.
Rabbi Steven Heneson Moskowitz is the rabbi of Congregation L’Dor V’Dor, a vibrant synagogue on Long Island’s North Shore. His writing appears in a variety of publications including Reform Judaism and The Times of Israel. He also blogs at rabbimoskowitz.com