Practicing Noisy Contemplation

noisy contemplation

My family and went camping at Enchanted Rock a few weeks ago. Enchanted Rock is a 425-foot high granite monolith rising out of the Texas Hill Country. It’s a strenuous but doable hike—unless you make the strategic error of going camping without taking your allergy medicine, start feeling vertigo on the way up, and decide it would be prudent to sit under a tree halfway up the dome while your husband and children finish the climb without you.

Not that I know anyone who’s ever done that. Really.

So I spent about an hour sitting on my comfy boulder and people-watching. One couple came through who were both wearing toddlers in backpack-style child carriers. I watched them, wondering what it would be like to try to climb up the granite slope with a baby on your back. How does it change your balance? Are you constantly making sure your footing is secure? When you’re carrying your baby, you’re constantly aware of his presence.

That constant awareness reminds me of the idea of noisy contemplation. In Listening for the Soul, the authors point out that while Jesus regularly withdrew to spend time with the Father most of his ministry happened in the midst of the noise. How many times did Jesus get interrupted “on the way”? He was on his way to heal Jairus’ daughter when the woman with an issue of blood touched his cloak. He was setting out for a journey when the rich young ruler ran up and fell at his feet. He was walking along the road when blind Bartimaeus cried out for mercy and when the ten lepers begged for healing. Jesus’ life was full of noise, chaos, and interruptions—but he was always aware of the Spirit’s leadership. Jesus heard God’s voice in the midst of the noise.

I’m trying to be mindful of that idea of noisy contemplation this Lenten season. Life doesn’t always permit me to luxuriate in solitude and silence. I discipline myself to get the alone time my soul needs, but life is filled with children, homework, carpools, dishes, and chaos. I need to hear God’s voice in the midst of my noisy life.

And so I’m practicing noisy contemplation—I’m trying to remind myself to stop, listen, and ask questions. God, what are you doing right now? How are you loving this person? How do you want to love him through me? Helping my children with homework, talking to the grocery-store cashier, chatting with a friend—I’m practicing the art of the inward pause, looking to see what God is doing in my present moment.

That’s my challenge to you this week. What God plants in us in the silence blooms in the midst of our activity. We need to practice our constant awareness of God’s presence, listening for his voice even in the middle of our noise.

How do you hear God’s voice in the middle of the noise?



  1. Michele Morin says:

    Do I ever need these words today! I’m so thankful for my rowdy boys — they have really taught me to concentrate and find the eye of the hurricane. They are also teaching me to be present to God on the fly!
    Blessings, Leigh!
    Michele Morin recently posted…The Practice of ListeningMy Profile

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