The Symphony of Silence

When I was in second grade, my Catholic schoolteacher would frequently remind the class, “Silence is Jesus’ language.” A brilliant technique to settle down some rowdy 8-year-olds, but it’s a simple message of truth that has stuck with me.

My mornings certainly do not begin in silence. I am all-too-suddenly woken up by my iPhone alarm, currently set to the “Motorcycle” sound setting. And my day continues with disruptive noise as I listen to the news, commute to work surrounded by large crowds, have discussions and meetings, and jam a small ear-bud into my ear canal as I enter the gym. Especially now that I live in the city, I cannot escape commotion. An ambulance roars in the distance as I type this.

I must say, there’s something comforting about this noise. I don’t have to feel alone.  It is a distraction.  I can focus on lyrics or headlines, as opposed to my own organic thoughts. Or better yet, not focus on anything at all.

But silence has a way of sneaking back in eventually. Whether I am in a church, or on a walk, I am once again greeted by silence and all the weight it carries. Sometimes silence reminds me that I’m sad. Silence reminds me of what I’ve been avoiding in prayer. It’s a reminder of my fears. But then, always, God breaks through in this silence. I can just sense God, the Father, saying to me, “Finally, my daughter, you are listening. Hear what I have to say.” I then feel surrounded by truth and guidance. My fears and vulnerabilities become less intimidating as I walk towards confronting them, under God’s direction.

Truth floods our soul in the quiet, and truth is quieted in noise. Recall it was in silence that Elijah heard the Lord; not in the loud wind, the earthquake, nor the fire – but in the silence (1 Kings 19:11-13)


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Sitting in silence is like finally switching on a light in a dirty room. You hate to see the filth, but you must recognize it, and move forward in cleaning up the mess. Silence provides an opportunity for contemplation; and with contemplation, growth.  As Blessed Mother Teresa, a woman with virtue I aspire to have, once said:

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

I need to sit in silence and listen to God speak, to guide my development on earth. Why do I often shut Him off before he has a chance to speak to me? Prayer should be a conversation, not a one-way ride on the complain-train. I do not call a friend, tell her of all my complaints, and then abruptly hang up the phone. And I certainly mustn’t do that with God. I need to hear His direction for my growth. If I am not moving forwards, I am moving backwards- and that is simply not something my soul can afford. Silence is not only crucial for our physical health, as this recent Verily magazine article explains, but it is necessary for my spiritual well being.

If silence is Jesus’ language, I now intend on becoming fluent.

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