Letter from the Rectory July 2019
Some of us are fortunate to live on, or within sight of, the High Weald. Whilst planes fly in and out of Gatwick not far away, for some of us where we live is also remarkably quiet for 35 miles from Central London.
Many people’s lives affected adversely by noise. A European study published in 2017 reported that ‘awareness of the problem of noise has grown in recent years, as techniques to measure its impact on heart disease, brain function (including learning, especially for children), sleep disturbance has improved’. The study says the harmful effects of noise ‘arise mainly from the stress reaction it causes in the human body, which can also occur during sleep’.
‘Managing Exposure to noise in Europe’ argues that the healthy limit for daytime noise is 55 decibels (dbA), with noise above 50 decibels at night liable to disturb sleep. A level of 55 decibels is equivalent to light traffic. It says around 100 million people in Europe are affected by noise levels above 55 caused by road traffic, while 32 million are exposed to traffic noise above 65 decibels. Road traffic is the biggest source of noise above acceptable levels, with rail second and 4.1 million living near airports suffering from unacceptable levels of aircraft noise.
Even in his day in the 1st Century, Jesus constantly needed to get away from people and from noise. In a frenetic life with people making constant demands upon him, and without a place he could call home, Jesus needed his personal space. He often got up early and went off to a quiet place, often in hills, to pray. In Mark 1:35, we read that ‘very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’
Even if you’re not the praying type, we all need to get away from activity from time-to-time, to clear our minds, to process all the information we absorb, to recalibrate, just to be quiet. For those who are active, it isn’t always easy, but most people can find a corner of the house, sit outside or go for a walk: and the early-risers have a head start.