Katrick: Finding a quiet place for God

In South Hall, where I lived during my senior year at Oberlin College, the most important person in the TV lounge was the one who had the remote control. While we were watching our favorite movies or the very first episodes of Saturday Night Live, it was he or she who had the duty of switching commercials on and off.

Back in the days when I was a kid, some commercials were well worth your time and attention. Do you remember the one where actor Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, tried to convince us it’s not possible to eat just one Lay’s Potato Chip? These days, I do the same with a can of low fat, lightly salted Pringles.

There are many advertisements that are entertaining and thought-provoking with creative messaging – like Infiniti’s latest commercial “Beautiful Mess.” It features a children’s orchestra making their best efforts to perform Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and hitting all the wrong notes. As the old saying goes, “It’s like listening to fingernails on a blackboard!”

Rev. Mark Katrick is a guest columnist for the Newark Advocate, and preacher at St. John's UCC.
Rev. Mark Katrick is a guest columnist for the Newark Advocate, and preacher at St. John's UCC.

I love the message. As a spiritual director, I especially appreciate the emphasis on finding a quiet place amongst the noise and distractions. But I don’t love listening to the messengers. So when the adult in the room, actress/sportscaster Erin Andrews, turns off the noise by closing her sunroof, I dive for the remote and put on the mute button.

This leaves me with some open-ended questions. The first and obvious of these is when making Divine-human connections through prayer and contemplation, what do you do to turn off the noise?

Have you taken the time and made the effort to identify a quiet place for your sacred space? Since we are a mobile society, people who are always on the go, you will need more than one of these spaces. And how often and for how long will you visit these places?

Sometimes you will have a remote control with a mute button at your disposal. But sometimes you won’t. What will you do then? It’s on occasions like these that you come to realize that the “still small voice” of God looms larger and louder than all the other noises and voices, including those within.

That’s when a few deep breaths, the redirection of thoughts and the acknowledgement of feelings comes in handy. In other words, here are ways to take control of the noise, even when you can’t.

And there are times you shouldn’t, like when your child has rehearsed and worked hard to prepare for a concert. During precious moments like this, we come to realize there are important messages to be heard from God and others, even if the messenger sounds like fingernails on a blackboard.

Rev. Mark Katrick, St. John’s UCC

This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Katrick: Finding a quiet place