Episode 10: Silence
I have come to receive it as a gift; although, I have to admit, not one I afford myself nearly often enough.
When it comes right down to it, there just aren’t that many times when and places where I am visited by the gift of silence. Unless I am intentional about it, silence just doesn’t often happen. My world is filled with sound – noise emanating from a variety of places, some of which I welcome, some of which I don’t. Between computer speakers and television sets and Bluetooth headsets; between spotify, Pandora iTunes; between CNN, MSNBC and NPR; between car horns and sirens and street traffic; there just aren’t that many spaces I walk into and out of anymore where I am not over-stimulated by noise.
I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day my brain is exhausted – not just my body, but my brain. It wants to go into shut down mode – and often times, it can’t. The noise that surrounds it doesn’t stop coming.
We talk a lot in the UCC about the Still-Speaking God. We write that we ought never place a period where God has placed a comma. That comma, which so many of us now easily recognize, says something to us. It says that God’s speech isn’t complete; God’s word is not yet fully spoken. There may be a pause coming, but not a period.
So what about that pause, the one the comma suggests and that invites another word from God. It begs a question, doesn’t it?
If God is still-speaking, who out there is listening?
Listening of this kind requires a pause; a shutting down, a slowing down, moments of solitude and quiet and, yes, silence.
Without that, the still-speaking voice of God may be offered but never received. Amidst the cacophony of noises that bombard us, where is the space and room for the pause that refreshes?
I was on retreat with other Heads of Communion last month, and it began with 24 hours of silence. My first thought was, you bring all these important people together who hold high positions within their denominations; they are only there for two days and a full half of that time you shut them up in silence? Is that wise?
My second thought was, that’s brilliant.
My third thought was, thank you.
My fourth thought was, why don’t I do this more often?
If I have a new Years resolution, it will be this: create more space for intentional silence into which I invite the sacred to speak – and I but listen.
Fellow traveler on these sacred journeys together, I invite you to cultivate a deeper relationship with yourself in silence. Open yourself up radically to the voice of our still-speaking God. Any may you find there what your soul and spirit need to sustain them on their journeys Into the Mystic.