In one of the books I am reading for tomorrow's class, the author frequently brings up the value of silence in a church service. (Liturgical Theology, Simon Chan) I had to chuckle a bit when I thought about this, because it seems like at our church everyone starts to get nervous if there is silence for more than 2 seconds! But how can I blame them? I feel the same way! I immediately wonder, "what's going on? Why is no one talking? Am I forgetting something?"
Let's admit it- in general, we are not comfortable with silence. In our iTunes, Zune, Bluetooth world, we don't know what do with it. Silence feels so out of place it is actually deafening. We rush to fill the silence with something, anything that keeps our brains in tune.
As I embark on two weeks of study, I find myself in a unique place. Away from the office, the kids, and all my routines, I am confronted with a great deal of silence. I have already experienced more of it in one night than I can recall in any recent week. (or month) And so, realizing that this silence may be common in the next two weeks, I am trying to give in to it and allow it to have a formative effect in my life.
Have you ever done the science experiment where you stir up sediment in a jar of water? As long as you keep the water agitating, all the particles spin around and the water is cloudy and dark. Only when you allow the water to stop spinning do the pieces of sand and rock begin to filter to the bottom and once again, in silence, the water becomes clear. You can see what before was only a mist. I think this can be the value of silence in our lives. We are so busy that everything spins around and the good, the bad, and the ugly of our lives are just one big blur. But in silence, we agree to let everything stop spinning. We wait for it all to sift to the bottom of our heart (or soul) and we can evaluate what belongs and what does not. In silence, we gain clarity.
I think this is why Jesus so often went away by himself to pray. The gospels say that Jesus often sought out solitude. Why would someone who had such a clear sense of purpose in life need any solitude or silence? Because Jesus knew that in silence, God could continue to make clear the next step.
So, for the rest of this month, I am attempting to enjoy silence. This will not be easy for my over-active, fill-up-every-inch brain, but I will try. And Lord willing, I will tell you how it goes!
How about you? What role does silence play in your life? Can you be comfortable in it? If so, tell us how you got there!
Peace on you and your journey-