Silence is so underrated today it is in danger of being thought irrelevant. In our society of continual stimulation, bombarded by sound, it is difficult to reason accurately, think things through to logical conclusions or listen sincerely to what another has to offer. Much blame falls on the ever-present cell phone and its offer of conversation and diversion at all times.
Ponder what pope Benedict XVI had to say about the value of silence. “In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening and deeper human relationships become possible.” Silence encourages depth, clarity of though, even charity.
My first reaction when reading this quote (thanks to my local newspaper the Press Democrat) was in regard to parenting. It would be wise for parents to limit – greatly limit while they are still young – the continual electronic stimulation on which children today rely for entertainment. Teach them to be comfortable with silence, their own thoughts, their imagination, let alone a good book!
In the Scriptures we are directed to set aside one day a week for greater silence. I wonder what God would do with our thoughts, priorities, the settling of necessary decisions, the deepening of relationships if we actually took a Sabbath from technology one day a week in order to be quieter and listen to him and to other people we love.
Awhile ago I decided to forego the internet on Sundays for that purpose but that’s as far as I’ve gone. I am challenged to power down my cell phone, too, and focus on my God and the people he puts in my presence, talk to my neighbors, read a good book. Really, I wonder what God would do…