Thursday, March 22, 2007

On silence

Whether we live alone or with others, work in a crowded room or in isolation, whether we are naturally quiet or boisterous, silence terrifies. Why else would we fill our auditory spaces with the clutter of whirs, clicks, and broadcast chatter? Why do our minds and hearts roar with words? We may cherish momentary quiet after a busy day, but soon we are filling it up with words on a printed page, or with imagined conversations with our bosses.
Silence terrifies because it demands our attention. The steady drone of bass lines and mechanical hums becomes part of the atmosphere, but let a room fall silent and all eyes (and ears) become alert. In extended silence, we cannot drown out the voices in our heads, usually our own, telling us what is wrong and right with us. What we ought have done; where we have failed; all we must do to occupy the space with sound and activity again.
But it takes an extended silence to hear God. When, after time, our own internal voices grow hoarse and we are simply present to the air, we are able to hear beyond the worry and the daily. We are able to hear The Eternal. God speaks in the whirlwind, of course. God plucks us out of regular to show us the lights of the Kin-dom.  But in silence, God speaks in extended sentences: God speaks God's dreams. Only then we are able to pay attention and hear.
Maybe we are not only afraid of silence, but afraid of finally hearing God? Where might we be compelled to go -- who might we become -- if we had the room to listen?

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