“It takes two years to learn to speak and sixty to learn to keep quiet.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
There is a method that spiritual directors, psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, parents, and police all utilize to make a person speak: silence. If you are in a room with another person and you remain silent, before you know it, they are spilling out their entire story to you. Whether it be a faith journey, a problem, or an indiscretion, silence seems to crack the walls that people put up around themselves.
I don’t know why so many people shy away from silence. As Hemingway states, within two years most people are talking fluently. They remain verbal and vocal from that point on. They don’t learn to be silent. If anything, they learn that they need to be louder in order to be noticed or to get someone’s attention.
Silence, I will admit, can be disturbing. But silence can also be quite comforting and healing once a person gets the hang of it. When people first try to be silent, the first thing that they notice is how loud the world is around them. Distractions abound from the ticking of clocks to the blowing of fans to the humming of motors. And that’s all just within the room or the house. There are the outdoor noises as well: traffic, sirens, planes, helicopters, lawn mowers, and other service or delivery vehicles.
Once people get past those noises and distractions, they find other, slighter, noises with which to contend: their heartbeat and their breathing. People would never think that their breathing or heartbeat would be a distraction until they find themselves in total silence. But, there it is.
Once people get past those interior noises/distractions, they can begin to listen to the depths of their being. It might be possible to hear conversations from loved ones in the past or hear the tiny whispering voice of God. It might also be possible to hear nothing — absolutely nothing at all — and to be all right with that.
That is the wonder and beauty of silence. It doesn’t have to be perceived as threatening. Silence might just become a welcome friend.
FAITH ACTION: Create time today to sit in silence in order to allow the Lord to speak to your heart.