05 December 2009


Sitting alone in my living room, listening to the white noise of my cooling mind, I am seized by the notion that my skull may be filled with hydrogen. Hydrogen, in certain energy levels, is surprisingly noisy.

Back in the 1930's and '40's, a bunch of brainiacs discovered that our galaxy was making noise. In essence, the Milky Way has a radio frequency, a background hiss, that varies on a regular cycle but is always there. Astronomers refer to it as the "hydrogen line", to be found at 1420.4 megahertz on the cosmic radio dial. With the right equipment, you can tune into it. Which, it also occurred to me, is the same way with God. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have the right equipment. If I do I am just not seeing it.

The hiss of the Universe fills my brain and I close my eyes to focus more on hearing. The hiss, its always there, I know it. Most days it gets drowned out by the din and clatter of modern life. I sometimes think myself fortunate, that I don't have to listen to the background hiss of my mind. Tonight, I am reminded that I think that because it means I am being distracted from myself.

Sitting alone on the couch, with only the random scraping of buttons in the dryer to keep me company, the hiss comes back loud and clear. It reminds me of two things: loneliness and God. Might they be one and the same? Or is it really that God is just a magnificent solitude, free of the demands of body and mind?

Or is it, as I fear, a sign of an overwhelming emptiness within? This is why I read so much, think so much, rest not nearly enough. Sitting still and quiet allows too much of the Void to creep in and threatens to swallow me up. It reminds me that I am far, too far from nearly all of the people whom I truly love.

The background hiss of the galaxy: God whispering in my ear of too much time and distance.

I read once that a definition of Hell is to be eternally separated from God. I would expand on it in another way. Many have posited that "God is Love", and if this is true then another working definition of Hell is to be eternally separated from Love. This is undeniably tragic.

Another sip of ginger tea, I swish it around in my mouth on the way to swallowing. The bubbly squeaking of liquid around my teeth and gums drowns out the hiss, ever so briefly, but then it is on its way to my stomach, hopefully to be calmed, just as when mom would administer ginger ale to me when I fell ill in childhood.

Closing my eyes, the hydrogen line appears in my head, a bright silver arc stretched across the Milky Way of my brain. One endpoint caresses my heart, the other...the other disappears into the inky black of an interstellar night. The parallels with the arc of my heart are too strong to ignore, and I shiver. I may not be in Hell, but I am close enough to the walls to feel its presence.

There may be tremendous distance between my heart and God/Love, but I don't want to be eternally separated from either. Out there, in the hiss of my mind, I can sense the faint calls of both. The task left to me, then, is to open my heart and start walking.

The journey, my friends, must begin.


  1. Seek and ye shall find Him. I know. I did...and I do, daily.

    Pleasant steps, my friend.

  2. I don't know your story, Irish, but I feel your searching. The first step, I feel, is the one of Loving yourself. You can walk a narrower path if you begin with self-love.

  3. I just read some bits and pieces about religious cults and now I am thinking that it is only a matter of time before a religion starts that is based on worship of the "background hiss," like a snake that never runs out of breath. God at 1420.4 megahertz.

  4. Love that you are tuning into frequencies. It's important to notice. I wish more people would.

    Love the heck out of this post. Have a good weekend.

  5. Remember me when you come into your kingdom :)

    Peace ~ Rene

  6. "the faint whisper of him." I hear it myself, my friend. I find myself turning to find the source of the whisper.

  7. Love Vodka's comment. Love it.

    I always remember one little prayer we sang at church when I was little myself; "be still and know that I am God..."

    ....and in that stillness, He is the Irish-whisperer :))

  8. The quiet isn't so quiet, is it Irish? This was beautiful. Hydrogen huh?

  9. I like being alone with the hiss in my mental ear. Although that hiss is replaced by a slower rhythm (think of the gentle building of a tempo of a Timpano struck by muted drumsticks). Or the sound of a single note repeated endlessly. Or the tinkling of wind chimes in a soft breeze. I have come to take comfort in that space between participation and isolation.

  10. People pay big money for yoga class to find that hiss.

    It is your soul, dude! And the best way to calm the busiest of mine.

    ahem. I should know ;)

  11. Ahh ... but opening the heart and walking is not easy. It's so hard to overcome being paralyzed by fear ... and forever suspended in a state or inertia!

  12. I've been following the "Hiss" for almost 41 years now Mr.Gumbo...and I am certain of two things...One..it ain't Hydrogen...and Two...it's part Irish. ;-) Live long and prosper friend...and should you find yourself stranded in NYC ...know that the King will always do his best to get you to your destination..wherever that may be. Peace out peep.

  13. You get it dude, more than some of the people in the pew next to me on Sunday.

  14. I think God's hiss is only a way of making you turn your thoughts inward, drowning out superfluous noise. You can hear Him and His message, but only if you calm the noise around you. Speaking from some experience, he comes across loud and clear with some really amazing guidance once you get beyond the initial noise and really tune in.

    Stop and listen...and then tell me what you hear.

    You are most awesome Gumbo, my stops here always cause me to think.

  15. Being eternally separated from God is always how I've seen Hell. I don't think the universe's hiss is God whispering, but it is a fine theory that's for sure!

  16. Your head is very noisy, isn't it, Irish? I know how that is, that constant hissing. Let God's Love guide you, it's amazing how that low whisper can drown out the background hiss ;)

    love Braja's comment .. the Irish-Whisperer .. hehe

  17. I think it's marvelous that the Universe makes a noise we can hear - is it just hydrogen? Is it God? I believe the latter is highly unlikely (you know how I feel), but the fact that it is there at all is awe-inspiring.

  18. You'll find a good signal if you tune into your wee lass... I know I do when I tune into mine. In those eyes you'll find all the answers, well... the important ones.

    My love and blessings follow you, my friend.

  19. Wow...I think my head's gonna a'splode.

  20. is it really god? or in the silence are you finally able to hear your own soul, your own self, your own small voice that is drowned out by all the sounds and dins and traumas and bangs and whirs of the day. It is in the silence, that we CAN pray, and not just to god, but also find a connection to our selves. now, skews me, while my head goes to explode too!!

  21. well well....

    amazing as usual.
    but this one really speaks.
    reminds me of all sorts of passages from my childhood.
    amazing stuff.
    i said that already, didn't i.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...