Is there silence in your life? T. S. Eliot wrote, "Where shall the world be found? Where will the word resound? Not here. There is not enough silence." How much more true those words are in 2011 than they were decades ago when Eliot wrote them.
I was surprised by silence yesterday. My mother is in the hospital at age 89. She was taken for a test, and I sat alone in her room with the door closed. In the middle of my uncertainties about her life, the silence was a gift.
Many of us experience little silence. For some, the noise is naturally created by our children, animals, traffic, others in our lives. For others, we seek to fill silence with television or our iPod.
Yet for God's word to come to us, we need some silence. We have to make space for the word to resound. We don't need hours of silence, necessarily, but we need some. And even a few minutes can give us the opportunity to listen for God's voice speaking to us.
This means more than time for prayer. In my own Baptist tradition, we tend to spend prayer time doing all the talking. And I firmly believe in the importance of petitionary and intercessory prayer. But we also need to stop talking and listen. Listen to God telling us who we are, who we are to become.
I notice in silence how busy my mind is. How patterned my thoughts are. How short my attention span is. And then I hear something beyond the chatter: a message about how deeply I'm loved, how fleeting are my fears, how much freer I can be. And, over time, we can find silence even in the middle of noise, an awareness of God's presence which is not limited to our times of prayer.
Through my mother's illness, I've been remembering the many things she taught me. She taught me as a child how to cross a street: stop, look and listen. It's about awareness. Seeking out even brief times of silence can increase our awareness of God, ourselves and others.
Can you find five minutes of silence every day in Holy Week?
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