-Paige Trivett, Blue Sky Fund
Noise, Noise, Everywhere
There’s no doubt about it, the city of Richmond is loud. From cars on the expressway, to live music drifting out of bars, to sirens on police cars and firetrucks, we’ve got it all. My ears are on overdrive from the time I wake up to the time I find sleep again (and oftentimes in the middle of the night, as well). All the noise makes it difficult for me to find peace and solitude. One of the ways I often explore and strengthen my relationship with God is through meditation, but I’m so used to silence when I meditate. Growing up in a small rural town meant I had many opportunities to find quiet retreats with the only intruders being the occasional cricket or spring peeper. But my move to RVA changed all of this.
During my first couple of months as a GOTH intern, I couldn’t figure out why my spirit felt so clouded all the time. I had just landed in such a compassionate church community that I should have felt rejuvenated. At first I chalked it up to relocating to a new environment and assumed it would pass rather quickly. Except the fog stuck around. I realized I had stopped meditating all together, which left me feeling incomplete and pretty frustrated. One day, Abbott led us in a sensory dependent exercise during formation and that’s when the metaphorical lightbulb in my head flicked on: the noise around me never stops! I couldn’t focus on my thoughts inside because outside there were constant, loud distractions. Every evening there is at least one house on the block that seems to be rowdier than the others. Leading a Blue Sky field trip requires constant verbal communication (and apparently screaming 3rd graders), which is sometimes overwhelming for an anxious introvert like me. Even in the GOTH Manor there is always a dryer running or another intern singing in the shower (luckily we can all carry a tune). One night a few weeks back I wondered if the party next door was God’s way of testing my level of patience or if he also had earplugs in. I was at the point where I thought I’d never be able to calm my spirit while in the city, and then I took a walk down to the river.
I was sitting on a large rock at Belle Isle when I first noticed it. There was a pattern in the sound the water made rushing downriver. When I focused on it long enough, it became so loud that it drowned out all the other noises around me. So I came up with a form of rhythmic meditation. This has since helped to calm my restless spirit tremendously. I have found that I can use almost any noise that has a pattern: a train passing by Reedy Creek, the fan in my bedroom, even my co-workers’ keyboards as they type in the office. Although it took me a while, I have adapted to my surroundings and have been able to use to my advantage the very thing that once annoyed me the most. I have to admit I enjoy the rare times I get to leave the city for a couple days and escape to quiet front porches or empty hiking trails. But now the rhythms of Richmond are too alluring to abandon all together. God has provided me with an unexpected harmony that continues to feed my soul every day.