Have you ever tried hearing nothing or tried to turn off the inner voice in your head for any period of time? I have and I feel accomplished if I get thirty seconds of peace from my own mind. As hard as it is to be silent within ourselves, it is just as challenging to find silence in the world around us.
My first thought about silence was that it is hard to come by. For many us, we are so use to hearing sounds and noises that if we find ourselves in a quiet environment, it’s kind of odd and our tendency is turn something on to eliminate the lack of sound.. But silence is a step beyond quiet because it is the absence of sounds and noise, stillness; which probably many of us have seldom experienced. However, when people speak or write about silence, it seems to be in reference to an ideal environment that if we can somehow embrace, we will somehow find peace. It’s an anomaly in the twenty first century, especially with all of our technology and gadgets that we can’t seem to live without.
Think about the places we find ourselves at through out the day. In our car, at school, at work and at home. Are these environments quiet? For example, when your’re in a commercial building like a school or factory or office building, even though no one may be speaking, you will often hear the sound of people doing their work, the hum of a machine or motor in the background or perhaps miscellaneous exterior sounds like engines running, dogs barking, grass being mowed or perhaps the wind blowing.
Even at home when you wake up in the middle of the night, it may be quiet, but the sounds of a house, like the hum of a refrigerator, air conditioner, furnace, a ticking clock or water heater don’t allow for silence.
Even when I’m hiking or backpacking, the wooded environments that I find myself in would be what most people would refer to as silence. And I too believe that these solitary hikes are as quiet as the woods can get, but as you all well know, as appealing and soothing as the woods can be, they are far from silent. Generally, a breeze may be rustling the leaves in the trees, or when you pass a stream you will hear the babbling of the water. I often hear the chirping of birds and the crack of a stick or debris underfoot as I walk on the trails, or any number of other sounds that this environment will offer; quiet yes, silent no.
My point is, even if we aren’t making our own noise by listening to the radio, headphones television, computer, etc., there is the noise of our everyday lives that constantly bombard us. It takes an effort to disconnect and find quiet places where we can soothe ourselves and an even greater effort to find the solitude of silence.
Recently my wife and I went to Indiana Caverns and we found ourselves 110 feet below the surface of the ground. There were six people in our party and when the guide turned the lights out for a minute or so, we experienced a total blackout and total silence. It was very different than quiet; you could hear your heart beat and hear yourself breathe.
Another quiet, almost silent environment I remember from my travels was the high desert in California. The stillness and the quiet of that area has stayed with me all these years. And I’m sure many of you have memories of quiet places like these because they make an impact on our psyches.
Jesus our Lord, the epitome of humility and majesty, began His ministry by fasting in the solitude of a desert for 40 days and often sought out those places of solitude to commune with His Father in prayer. Jesus came to save mankind and we read in the Gospels that he was with them in their sorrows and joys, teaching and healing them where they were, and calling them to love God with all their might, showing us by His example how to live a successful life. If Jesus made it a priority to seek consolation with His Father in quiet places, how much more do we need to do the same?
I don’t think it is necessary to find total silence, like in a cave, to commune with God, but it is necessary that we remove ourselves from our technology and the hustle and bustle of living to find some alone time with God in serene environments, where ever they be found; your home, the woods, your backyard, a mountaintop, or even a cave. Then we can fulfill what Jesus emulated for us and fulfill the directives found in Psalm 46:10 and Psalm 62:5, “Be still and know that I am God.” and “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.” And among others, Habakkuk 2:20, “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him”
May you find the silence that will allow your heart to soar to God. God bless you!