The morning after a holiday always seems absurdly quiet to me, especially the morning after Independence Day. After a day of parade watching, grilling, bottle rockets, firecrackers, and fireworks, the normal morning sounds seem to take place in a vacuum. That’s accentuated by the tradition of Fenelon Clan men folk to rise at dawn and stumble down to the park to see what interesting items the Fourth of July picnickers have left behind. It’s hard to believe what a little (or a lot) of beer and revelry will do to a person’s sense of value – or lack thereof – as displayed by the menagerie of goods strewn about the park. In past years, our valiant treasure hunters have found lawn chairs, grills, coolers, pocketknives, money, and of course a vast array of fireworks. It’s always an adventure.

I don’t go with them, but I feel guilty staying in bed while they are out there hunting for lost treasure. So, I get up with them, turn on the coffee, and try to act alert as I wait for their return. The stillness of the early morning is such a sharp contrast to the noise and activity of the previous day, it seems like we’re in another world.

In Pope Benedict XVI’s address to a crowd of 25,000 in Sulmona, Italy yesterday, he, too, spoke about another world and it had a particular impact on me. He issued a call to the faithful, encouraging them toward interior and exterior silence so as to be able to hear God’s voice and the voices of our neighbors. He said:

“Here a first aspect that is important for us: We live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be ‘filled’ with initiatives, activity, sound; often there is not even time to listen and dialogue. Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not be afraid to be silent outside and inside ourselves, so that we are able not only to perceive God’s voice, but also the voice of the person next to us, the voices of others.”

The Holy Father is asking us to actually enter another world – the world of God’s merciful love. In many ways, we have the Fourth of July everyday. But, instead of firecrackers, bottle rockets, and fireworks, we fill our days with MP3 players, cell phones, text messaging, Internet, e-mail, television, and packed schedules. We rarely allow souls the room they need to think, feel, and breathe in the Spirit. We keep our minds and hearts so busy, that the silence in which we find God seems completely absurd. It’s such a sharp contrast to the noise and activity of our usual days, that it seems like were in another world.

This morning’s silence was a good reminder to me that I need to enter that other world more often. I’m just like everybody else; I fill my day with gizmos and busyness and often forget to leave a block in my schedule to reconnect with God and to rediscover the depth of his merciful love for me. That’s a treasure hunt beyond compare.

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