“Silence is also conversation...Silence is ever speaking; it is the perennial flow of language.”
What is it about silence that elicits an emotional response in us? Certainly it enters into the lexicon in a big way: a pregnant pause, the sound of silence, silence is golden, silent reign of terror, the silence was deafening. Silence is something with which many of us are not comfortable for long, at least not in company. In a Lent Planning meeting recently, we spoke of allowing silence to occur during worship—it was decided that thirty seconds was about the maximum people could tolerate.
Often, silence says more than words—for one thing, words can be used to obfuscate. We frequently speak words to intentionally confuse and muddle meaning, to hide the truth, to create concern or a false sense of safety. Silence is not so malleable. It says a great deal and we usually understand its meaning exactly. We are not misled by silence.
Our world is so filled up with words—so many languages, so many sounds, everyone talking at once, some voices rising above the throng, shouting, chanting, singing. Silence is an alien thing to us. We are so afraid of it, we walk around with ear-buds and head-phones to assure ourselves that not a single moment will lapse in silence. But imagine how powerful it would be for thousands of people to stand in silent protest, or march in silence—how eerie that would feel. How strange.
Silence can be healing. Providing time for silence is essential for spiritual growth and development. It provides opportunity to decompress from all the talk-talk-talk; to be alone with our thoughts, to dive deeper into questions, to listen. Intentional silence calms and gives us time to examine our inner world without distraction. It gives us rest. During the days between now and Easter, why not build some silence into your routine. Learn what it's like to be alone with yourself. Build some silence into conversations, and see what arises within you and between you and others. You may be surprised by its power.
In the Spirit,