“What is the difference between sound and noise?” My children were asked to answer this question as part of a homework assignment last week. Good question. Yesterday I took a break from a long to-do list to lie on the dock on the Charles River in Watertown Square and ponder it. I closed my eyes and soaked in with thankfulness the warmth of the autumn sun, stockpiling its energy for the grey days ahead.
I listened. I did that exercise you’ve probably done along the lines, in some yoga class or meditation training: “Try to identify all the different sounds you can hear.” Men chatting. Wind rustling through the trees. Big trucks rumbling over the bridge. An ambulance passing. And then the traffic — the constant whirr of car engines and wheels spinning across concrete.
Most of the time, eyes open, looking out across the Square, the sound of all this traffic is noise to me. I long for less. I remember walking once through the Square late at night, after a big snowstorm. It was so still, so beautiful. I long for a return to that. But on this day, eyes-closed, lying in the sun, it was OK. It was sound, not noise. It was life and movement and part of a sonic dance.
Whatever the “noise” in your life today, I pray that you find your own equivalent of a dock to lie on. I pray for warmth and light to ease the strain of all that wrangles and clangs in and around you. I pray for the grace to offer sound, rather than noise, to those I meet this day, too.