When the flood closed I-29 north of Saint Joseph, we saw a huge increase in traffic on US-36, which runs right by our place here, about four-hundred-and-fifty feet from our bedroom windows. According to an article in the local paper, the daily traffic count jumped from 7000 to 42,000. That’s quite an increase and no small part of it is truck traffic. The drone and moan and whine and thunder of eighteen-wheelers are not always conducive to sleep.
To help us with our somniferous aspirations, we’ve been using the noise generator Randa’s sister-in-law gave us. Having our choice of Summer Rain, Ocean Surf and Stormy Night, we opted for Waterfall. It seems to be the one that best masks over much of the traffic sounds. So, part of our evening ritual now includes setting the alarm and turning on the waterfall.
It has made quite a difference. Unless the voices and other noises inside my head instigate insomnia, I’ve been sleeping pretty well of late. Occasionally, the deep snarling of Jake braking will stir me in the night, but usually, the waterfall sounds prevent the rhythms of the road from waking me.
In this case, the sounds of recorded nature help me sleep and give me rest. But I worry that sometimes the deliberate noise of our lives might be drowning out the wrong things. The distractions of our busy-ness may be keeping us from alerting to the signals of more important issues: a child needing something more than fifteen minutes help with homework, a neighbor on the brink of despair, a co-worker whose home life has become an oxymoron, a supervisor whose loneliness has become more than torment. Or, it may be something possibly even more important: our own emotional or spiritual emptiness moving us toward some life-altering Bad Choice.
It is a fine skill to cultivate the habit of blocking out the aggravations and irritations of our planet so that we can find the solitude that we need. But we should keep in mind that the purpose of rest is that we find ourselves refreshed for the work that the Lord has prepared for us to do.