I’m becoming intrigued with silence. At least part of my interest probably has to do with the fact that I just finished mowing the lawn and the roar and vibrations of my ride-on tractor have yet to fade away. This too shall (thankfully) pass.
But there’s more to my curiosity than seeking haven from the sounds of the lawn mower. I’m intrigued by silence as a gateway to God.
Our world is flooded with words, some gentle, some harsh, many unnecessary. Everyone wants to be heard; no one wants to listen. Social media provides us a great way to make ourselves heard but even that doesn’t seem to be enough. Just recently, the online social media tool Twitter hinted it was considering going beyond its 140-character limit to allow users more room to express themselves. The demand for more and more words is a demand to make ourselves heard above the din of a world awash in words.
The Apostle James wrote: “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire” (James 3:5-6). Our world is on fire with words; words spoken and written; words that can us build up, but oh, how they can tear us apart. So many words, so little meaning.
I’ve been reading a book by the Roman Catholic priest and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen called The Way of the Heart. In it, he suggests that prayer, wisdom and silence are key in our efforts to get in touch with God. These were the primary ways of the Christian mystics, hermits and monks who sought refuge from the noisiness of their times. Nouwen writes:
“In our chatty world, in which the word has lost its power to communicate, silence helps us to keep our mind and heart anchored in the future world and allows us to speak from there a creative and re-creative word to the present world.”
God is in our present, but God is all about the future, a future of peace, justice and wholeness for all God’s creatures in a New Heaven and New Earth. Being silent before God helps us connect to that future where we are bound to spend our days in the loving presence of the one Word that has not lost its meaning—Jesus Christ. This Jesus who quieted storms and silenced demons can quiet our restless hearts as well.
Spend time in silence with Jesus. Let the fullness of his love embrace your soul. May His wordless communion speak to you of the riches of his grace.