Have you ever had your music on while in the shower? Unless you turn it up super loud, sometimes it’s very difficult to hear which song is on and no matter how hard you listen, you can’t make out the tune or the words, whether due to the frequency of the pouring water overtaking the frequency of the music or what I don’t know. And that’s when you sigh, give up on listening, and decide to focus on your shower. Then, all of a sudden, a piece of music bursts through the shower noise and you know what song is playing. Suddenly you have no trouble hearing the music, even though just seconds before you couldn’t make out a single note.
How is this possible? Now, I am no scientist, but what I think happens is that if there is excessive noise surrounding a person, that person can’t hear anything distinguishable from the noise, unless something familiar breaks through (and there may be something in there about frequencies and all that kind of stuff, if I remember anything about physics…I think physics anyway…). Well, that’s all well and good, Joyanne, but wouldn’t it be correct to assume that the music you’re listening to in the shower is music you’ve heard before, and therefore ALL of it would be familiar to you? Shouldn’t you then be able to hear it all the time? Well, Joyanne, you raise a good point, a good point, indeed. I do believe I said in the previous paragraph, however, that only when I have stopped trying so hard to hear which song is playing am I able to hear which song is playing.
Alright, that’s all well and good and interesting and all, but why bring all this up? What’s the point? Well, Joyanne, I am very glad you asked that question:
I recently started reading a new book called What is God? by Jacob Needleman (cue Haddaway’s “What is Love?”). I haven’t really gotten far into it, but one of the things I remember reading so far is that in order to really think about God, one has to be in the proper state of mind to think about God (p.12). When I was in the shower, then, the thought came to mind that perhaps this phenomenon that happens with hearing music while showering could be a good analogy for this “thinking about God” phenomenon, and even more so, HEARING God and truly listening to Him.
All I know is this: I do not hear God or feel His presence when I am at church (as much as I want to), or if I do it is very rarely (and now that I think about it again, the reason why I don’t really feel God’s presence in church is because I’m usually not in the right frame of mind to hear Him at church; I’m usually thinking about who I’m going to see and what kind of gossip we’ll share… but I will continue with my line of thought nonetheless). The reason is that being at church is kind of like being surrounded by the noise of the shower, so I have a really hard time actually hearing God; all I hear is the people here asking for this and that (which is a completely different topic altogether). If I am in a moment of true silence, however, sometimes I am hit with a force that I feel to be God’s presence. It is like that familiar piece of music that breaks through when you’ve finally given up trying to hear it. And I didn’t mention the joy you feel at finally having figured out what the piece of music is; it is the same when you finally feel God’s presence or know what you’re supposed to do next (though that is also a terrifying thing, especially if it turns out to be something you do not want to do, which again is another topic of discussion alltogether).
So, that’s what I was thinking about in the shower.