It seems like there is so much noise in the world.
I already know this is going to sound like a “get off my lawn” rant but when I look at my twins, their world is so radically different than the one of my own childhood. During the early to late 1980s we had exactly three broadcast television channels (I want to say Fox was added late during that period to make four) and if you wanted to watch a specific show you needed to be ready when it came on air and hoping your parents didn’t want to watch something different. The Internet (if you could call it that) was restricted to a handful of research universities and government laboratories, mobile phones existed but were literally bigger than a brick and more curiosities than mainstream devices, and custom music playlists were relegated to creating a “mix tape” on your dual cassette player.
Certainly, there was a lot going on in the world. The Cold War was in full swing, numerous shooting wars and other unrest in the Middle East, the new War on Drugs, the Beirut Marine Corps barracks bombing, Mt. St. Helen’s erupting, Pope St. John Paul II shot in Saint Peter’s Square, Microsoft Windows changing personal computing forever, and so on and so forth. However, it seems as if we were now being constantly bombarded with noise… err news, and I believe we can all agree most news is bad. It is so completely instantaneous in a manner that was unthinkable a quick generation ago.
Social Media was also something so nonexistent as to even intrude on the fevered dreams of the most ardent conspiracy theorist. Now, along with the news, we are constantly and instantaneously updated on what every airbrushed and meticulously curated celebrity is doing. On top of that “Influencers” (who thought that was going to become a thing) broadcast themselves as real people. As if real people are always on exotic vacations indulging in their every decadent whim. Quoting Baz Luhrmann, “Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.” Fortunately, we no longer need to read beauty magazines because that noise is transmitted directly into our brains through the three or four devices we carry.
We are continuously warned to reduce our children’s “screen time” as well as our own, but that becomes incredibly challenging when even your refrigerator has an IP address and wants to talk to you through your smartphone about how the ice cream and beer are nearly gone. The noise has gotten so prevalent and intrusive that my wife cannot so much as go to sleep without waking up the next morning and her watch telling her how well she slept.
Last night we returned home from my nephew and Godson’s birthday party. While everyone went about their Sunday night routine, I let our beagle pup out and was about to walk back into the house when I noticed the backyard was literally ablaze with fireflies. I mentally filed that away as a curiosity and soon enough Molly (the beagle) wanted back inside, had her dinner, and curled up on the kitchen floor. I had sat down at the kitchen table to polish my leather boots
Then I believe the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Shredding up our normal Sunday night routine I called down my wife and the twins and all of us went outside. It did not matter that the boys were freshly showered and barefoot in their sleeping clothes as they chased around fireflies in the wet grass. Ordinarily I would have been horrified at my wife going inside and getting a clean mason jar for them to capture said fireflies in (yes my OCD would require me to thoroughly clean it afterwards) and even the beagle was not afraid to venture out into the backyard with the porchlight turned off. Despite what she wants you to think, she is far, far from a fearsome canine.
What resulted was almost an hour of the twins chasing Molly, fireflies, and themselves around the backyard in a velvety Summer night; giggling and laughing the entire time. My wife and I (between being chased ourselves) sat on the grass next to the fence and simply talked. Everyone was late to bed, particularly after second showers for the boys, and there was quite a bit of rushing around afterwards to get things ready for the workweek. However, for an hour all that noise was simply gone as the fireflies danced around our backyard.
I encourage all of you to look for your own fireflies. Some way to shut out the noise for at least a little while before plunging back into the world. I can say that none of us were praying or speaking directly to God that Sunday night. However, I have no doubt He was spending that time with us, away from all the noise that keeps us from listening to Him.
P.S. All fireflies were humanely released from the mason jar prior to us going inside.
-By Eric Brooks