I’m at a Quiet Retreat right now. I have been in some level of silence for a while now and just cannot get this week’s RestDay Reflections off of my mind. It seems to me this is either a distraction from God’s enemy or a direction from His Spirit.
So, I sat here and tested it a bit. It is neither a sin of omission or commission, as best I can discern. And, if it is a distraction, perhaps the best way I can deal with it (given it is not inherently evil) is sit and write a bit… get it off my plate… knock the legs out from under its potential to distract me any longer.
I love musicals – always have. I grew up wishing the world were really like that… full orchestras lurking just behind the drywall of public buildings or a barbershop quartet in the basement ready to chime in to our family debates.
One of my early favorites was the story of River City, Iowa. Oh, sure, it looked like a safe-enough; happy-enough place to live and raise a family. It was the kind of town where most everyone knew everyone… a stereotypical Mark Twain river-town where a sense of humor was more valuable than a sense of direction. It was the kind of place where everyone gathered on the square to watch the Wells Fargo Wagon come to town.
But looks can be deceiving.
You see, there was trouble! Yes, that’s right, trouble… right there in River City (I’m not making this up). And trouble was a great word to describe things because trouble begins with ‘T’ which rhymes with ‘P’ and that, as you know, stands for pool! (-not the swimming kind but the mind-numbing, talent-wasting, potential gambling-hall sort of pool).
Fortunately for the clueless residents of River City, Professor Harold Hill was passing through town (passing through is something Professor Hill did a lot). He recognized the grave risks at play, warned the townspeople and had a sufficiently Mayberry-esque answer to their troubles: a band for all those potentially troubled boys!
And, like a blessing fall down from heaven for the at-risk residents of River City, Professor Hill could procure the instruments and uniforms through his many connections as a result of his musical training at the Gary Conservatory (Gold-Medal class of ’05) in Gary, Indiana.
If you know the story, you know that Professor Hill was a con man and this con… convincing townspeople of the need for a band, collecting the funds for the instruments and uniforms, then scooting on to the next town… was his con.
Enter his River City trouble: Marian Paroo; the meek librarian of River City. She didn’t trust him. She had research skills and resources to investigate her questions.
Hill, keenly aware of her misgivings, befriends her much younger brother and helps him overcome his lisp-driven fear of interacting socially.
Marian starts to fall for Harold.
Harold becomes torn… he knows he’s duping the fine, upstanding residents of River City. He knows he’s being sought by representatives of previous instrument/uniform purchasing, no-band towns.
And, he knows he feels something he’s never felt before – a growing love for Marian… love enough to stand and face his own troubles.
The musical launched on Broadway in 1957 and won 5 Tony Awards. In 1962 there was a classic film-version released (the one I grew up on). And, in 2003, a remarkably entertaining TV re-make of the film (with Matthew Broderick and Kristen Chenoweth) debuted.
At the point where Marian begins to wrestle with her own feelings, she sings this classic song, Till There Was You. (It’s the only Broadway song the Beatles ever recorded.) Here are the words:
There were bells on the hill
But I never heard them ringing,
No, I never heard them at all
Till there was you.
There were birds in the sky
But I never saw them winging
No, I never saw them at all
Till there was you.
And there was music,
And there were wonderful roses,
They tell me,
In sweet fragrant meadows of dawn, and dew.
There was love all around
But I never heard it singing
No, I never heard it at all
Till there was you!
There is a reoccurring phrase in that simple ballad that haunts me: “I never heard them…”
I think: how is that possible (especially in such a quaint little town)?
What was her turning point?
The answer is in the song too: “Till There Was You”
That’s actually why I’m on a quiet retreat. There is so much noise in my life… too much. I’m having too many “never heard them” moments when it comes to Words from God.
I have to re-center. I know God’s not gone anywhere. But, I keep meandering about… that River City danger of mind-numbing, clueless days, surrounded by the Voice of God, but never hearing Him.
I know there is a You. I love Him. But I’m missing His bells, His singing, His Voice… it’s all lost in the noise around me, from me, and within me.
So, back to my quiet retreat… not just so I can be silent, but so I can hear God.
Maybe you’d like to try some quiet this week as well? A few minutes in each day? An hour here or there? A half-day? Just get quiet enough to hear Him.