The Blessing of Silence
The Blessing of Silence
BLOG #13 January 19, 2021
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. NRS
Silence is the created space around created things and people. This space is filled with the breath of God, the Holy Spirit and is the source from which God permeates all that exists. It is in this space revelation occurs, for it is here that we can most profoundly and truly listen to God. It is in this sacred silent space that we can rest in God’s mystical creative presence in us and all around us, where the Lord Jesus Christ is most profoundly, palpably, and intimately known as our Savior in whom our soul knows hope. In this sense silence can be understood by faith as the space in which we are graced with the ability to meditate 1 on the communion that exists between God and humanity. Thus, it is in silence that humanity and God together can explore, the great human mystery of love, joy, pain, suffering and even death. Meditation in silence on such things can thus bring us to a deep contemplation of the great mystery of the Cross. Remember it was out of sheer silence that God spoke to Elijah and it was out of sheer that God created all things. Silence reminds us that out of it came all that is. Silence is God’s first language. The Word was silent before being spoken. The Word became flesh out of sheer silence.
Silence blesses us with the ability to appreciate the uniqueness all things and all people around us. Too often we allow the inner and the outer chatter to distract us from the unique person, and the unrepeatable moments that exist before our very eyes. Every moment is a unique gift of God, as all creation, including every person, to be enjoyed and experienced. All of which are couched in a continuous mystical way of being that flows out of silence. It thus behooves us to savor the unique creation and moments by which God is blessing us, in multitudes impossible to imagine.
Silence reminds our hearts to listen. Silence is not a head thing; silence is a heart thing. To the solely analytical mind silence is a waste of time, but to the heart silence is expansive, healing, and timeless. Listening to and in silence intimately connects us to all that is. Listening in Silence is not active listening, nor is this focused listening. It is not something we try to do as much as it is something we live and rest into. This is why simplicity and solitude are so important if we are going into silence and learn holy listening, as they prepare us to be open, undefensive and in the moment as we sense the silence and enter into what may more accurately be referred to as spacious awareness. The realm and posture of silence is not an awareness of God here or there, but an immersion into God who is everywhere. It is pure receptivity to God’s voice, on God’s terms. Humility thus becomes an essential component as we cannot impose ourselves in any way shape or form. Silence is a spaceless way of being that can only be lived into through a humble heart/spirit and a deeply surrendered way of being that is filled with a deep desire to be fully aware of life in Christ Jesus.
In silence we are blessed to have our ears tuned to hear Gods gentle voice as if it were thunder, couched in the harmony of God’s love. In silence we are blessed to be aware of grace notes coming forth creatively every moment moving gently into our being. God’s voice just waiting for us to become aware. The sheep learn to hear the Lord’s voice when they become silent, thus becoming predisposed to contemplative listening.
Silence gives us the ability to empty ourselves into that from which all creation has come forth; thus, giving us the gift of being aware of Holy Spirit movements, within us and all around us. This is the blessing of contemplative, with God, listening. It is the sound of sheer silence that brings us into an ever-deepening awareness of God’s presence here and now, dispelling once and for all the illusion that we are in any way separate from God.
Although this silence is most often cultivated within an atmosphere of outer silence the true goal is that of inner silence. 2 Therefore, this silence can occur within the context of creativity, nature, music, dance, writing or any number of activities that bring us into a deeper awareness of God’s presence in the moment. David Steindl-Rast, when speaking of silence in the monastery, and in my view all silence, writes.
“Yet, monastic silence does not consist in the elimination of words, the elimination of noise. This process of elimination leads, at best, to the hush of a public library or of a morgue. Monastic silence is not dead silence, it is alive with the presence of mystery like the silence of a deep forest”
A Listening Heart, pg. 80
The real desire is for us to enter into a silence that silences anything that distracts from the sound of God’s voice, however that may occur. It is important to remember that it is not us who do the silencing, or choose the things to be silenced. God does the silencing. It is our job to just keep listening with an open spacious awareness of God’s blessed presence.
1 We will consider in detail the Christian contemplative practice of mediation in future BLOG posts.
2 This is the topic of next week’s BLOG post.