Silence. Such a rare commodity for most of us. Do you ever get to experience Silence? What is it like? Does it have a still, small voice? Or is Silence deafening, and frightening in its nothingness?
Silence. Michael Comins¹ writes”Not all silences are alike. Put in earplugs or enter a soundproof room and the silence is muggy and oppressive. Silence in a forested, mountain wilderness is rare. The wind howls, leaves rustle, birds chirp, insects buzz, creeks “sing.” True silence, perhaps on a peak when the wind stops, is actually quite rare. It hits suddenly, with dramatic impact. In Israel’s deserts and the Sinai ….the silence is vastly different…. This silence is total, yet light and natural – even embracing. And precious. The smallest movement of an insect or the slightest breeze registers audibly. You hear the ruffling of your sleeve, or the call of a raven miles away. This is desert silence. Easily disturbed. A fragile silence.”
Silence. Sometimes it’s a sound we long for. In a noisy world where everything clamours for our attention, it is in Silence that we can seek the gifts of calmness and stillness. William Penn suggests “True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body -nourishment and refreshment”. In Silence, we can once again begin to connect with ourselves, and with something beyond ourselves.
Silence. I imagine Silence as a deep void from which all creativity can spring. A necessary emptiness that somehow holds myriads of possibilities. Thus Silence seems a fitting way to begin any new important endeavour. From within the Silence, we can hear what we most need to know.
Silence. It can also be a dreaded response. What a terrible thing it is, when we reach out to another in some way and are met with – Silence. When we put ourselves on the line, show our vulnerabilities, pour out our hearts, beg for help and – nothing. Silence.
Silence. A terrible thing when it is a result of apathy, fear or powerlessness. When there is a need for voices to cry out, to speak against injustice, against abuse, against anything that diminishes life.
Silence. How can we make some space today for the Silence that is nourishing? The Silence that replenishes us, grounds us, and sends us on our way with renewed vigour and direction? It might be impossible to have total Silence, but we can
- make a time where we switch off all the sounds we can -including our phones.
- step outside in the quietness of the night and silently look at the stars.
- sit with a friend in companionable Silence, without the need to fill it with words.
- close our eyes and become aware of the small sounds that usually go unnoticed.
- withdraw to a favourite quiet place alone.
- sit in quiet stillness, and focus -on the breath, a candle’s flame, a mantra or verse – anything that stills the chatter of the mind.
Silence. May it be a gift for you today.
1. “Elijah and the “still, small, voice“, CCAR Journal, Spring 2001, read online at http://www.torahtrek.org/app-writings/writing-2