Sitting high atop what is arguably the most beautiful island on earth, I realize that the phrase ‘rise above the fray’ has some issues worth addressing.
The phrase itself implies that above the noise of life, one is somehow magically impervious to the clutter of noise. But that’s just not honest.
My expectation of escaping to this level of elevation was that I wouldn’t be bothered by the noises of the hustle below me. I naively held a sense of immunity from the chaos below when I set my gaze upon the ascent (on the side of a cliff) of 6 flights of stairs (with luggage) to my one room, private bungalow overlooking the coast of Capri, Italy.
Surrounded by orchards of olives and lemon trees, wild colorful blooms and a myriad of unknown fragrances, I found myself slightly disappointed that for all my effort to ascend above it all, with intent of cleansing my senses, I was all the more assailed by EVERY SINGLE sound the island had to offer.
From buzzing scooters, to barking dogs, ship motors, voices and church bells, it seems to be a never ending barrage of sound that signals there’s life just below me.
I am reminded of how many times Scripture describes God as just being exhausted with our constant noise that ascends to his throne. Our prayers do too, by the way. Sounds are described Biblically, as pleasant, savory and aromatic OR a stench, chaotic and a nuisance to an all- perfect Creator.
Think about that. If noise can get on God’s last nerve, how is it possible that we believe ourselves above the possibility and exhaustion the incessant chatter of life can bring? Really.
It reminds me that with all my ascension, whether in my own head or physically, the only escape from the demands of life is to look up into the eyes of peace Himself, which is not only higher than my earthly perch, but mystically, within my own spirit and closer than I think.
I am also keenly aware that along with elevation comes the ability to distinguish the various sounds tickling our ears and disturbing our soul’s peace.
The beauty of distinction is the gift of organizing. Some call it compartmentalizing. Either way, for the one who ‘feels’ all of life, it’s a notable blessing.
Sounds at higher levels of elevation become distinguishable to the discerning mind. You know, with certainty, what you are hearing. The dog, bird, child, woman, man, car, bus, scooter, boat, wind, trees, bees, and church bells all have their own specific sound. The chaos subsides and auditory order is established.
This is important for me personally, because it allows me to decide what I want to give my attention to. It also allows me to appreciate each sound for what it represents. The filter of height above chaos, is a gift. Mine’s been clogged. And many of you, can relate.
The fray is inescapable, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t quiet in the noise of life.
When I close my door in the evening and it’s just me, I can faintly hear the sounds of life continue below me. My eyes are served a feast of blue sea and an undulating landscape, home to 13,000 residents, thousands of years of history and secretes yet to be told in every ray of sun and drop of soil.
I wait to reopen my door in the cool of the night when most people are finished buzzing about with laughter and wonder. The dogs are asleep, nature is resting, the sea is quiet and the earth prepares to receive her renewal with a dewy kiss from above. Nothing is left behind. All in its natural place and order, the ebb and flow of life is once again clear to the weary sojourner.
It is said that Sir Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower met on this island to discuss the strategy to end WWII. It reminds me that peacemakers and those entrusted to maintain the flame of liberty, need to retreat for restoration, renewal and perspective not easily gained while on the battleground.
In a world full of soul numbing noise, it’s refreshing to feel, taste, touch, hear and see all of life. A little overwhelming at first because I’m finally quiet enough to take it all in. Seems every day is a battle, whether societal or personal. My work certainly lends itself to stacking up casualties of politics and divisive rhetoric amongst my colleagues in media. It’s exhausting.
I watched the new release “Tolkien” on my flight across the Atlantic. The story of J. R. Tolkien. I was reminded that a poet of life sometimes fights gruesome battles not only on the actual battlefield, but within his or her own soul to maintain the integrity of the gift to dream of a beautiful realm beyond what this life has to offer.
My takeaways were: Love matters, art is the glue of civility, fantasy is a fair and necessary replacement for reality at times and magic isn’t always ungodly.
I asked for rest. I came here with the express intention of reconnecting to the divine spirit in me seemingly squashed and silenced by the fray.
I climbed those six flights of stairs, weary, exhausted and beat the hell down by all the noise only to find it was inescapable. I cried tears of frustration and resolution that my prayers in fact, fell on deaf ears. But I am once again reminded, that while the voice of peace may in fact be hard to hear in our daily lives, He truly never leaves us or forsakes us. When we seek, we will find. When we knock, it will be opened.
The truth is, peace is standing at our door knocking, but we can’t hear it for all the voices competing for our attention and affection. We call it life, but is it?
The climb up those stairs was symbolic. it served as a reminder that I have a place of rest, in the secret place. In the shadow of the Almighty. And so do you.
Like squeezing the oil from an olive or pressing wine from the grape, seeking and trusting the husbandry of my cultivator of the soil of my heart, has proven once again, to be worth the effort.
I can’t see, much less create beauty, when the sun of my soul is eclipsed by the smoldering cloud of the fray.
Two planes, three trains, a ferry, 2 taxis and a continent later, I took the risk and plugged back in.
Don’t judge my journey. Continue yours.