For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5 ESV
Whatever spiritual style we enjoy or operate in, the most important step we will all take involves cultivating a home for silence in our heart.
Silence is difficult. It’s confusing. What, exactly, is supposed to happen while sitting for long, potentially awkward periods of time? I’m still not confident about my answer, but I can share some of my experiences.
Silence takes time to be quiet. The point is simple: our environment is noisy, and our souls are noisy as well. And somewhere in the midst of this din arises the inner call of God.
I have found in my own journey, that even after months which has now become years, I am still humbled by the degree of inner noise that persists within my heart and mind. It seems that the noisy world outside is simply a mirror of the noise that is within.
Silence takes work. It takes discipline and courage to cut through all the little things that distract our minds and hearts to arrive at a place of sacred silence.
I have met many Christians who have tried to enter into silence, only to give up because they found the inner noise simply too much to bear. The margin is so very fine. The difference is little more than a willingness to keep searching for the silence in the midst of the inner noise.
They are beautiful Christians who love the Lord deeply and serve Him wholeheartedly but when it comes to the search for silence they find the inner noise is driving them. They have learnt the language of love that God pours into their souls and they show that love others, but they have not learnt the language of silence. I would have to confess that there have been times when I have also walked alongside others and the Lord had asked me to stop, to pause and become still with Him. We tend to forget that He already has the situations, we think we are called to, under control and our involvement in the person life may end up being an interruption to the deep work God is doing within them.
Silence takes perseverance. I have some good days and I have some terrible days when I attempt to enter into silence. However, the more I try, the better I get. For me I wrestle with this on a regular basis as I try to become closer to and more intimate with God. A key purpose in my daily discipline is to foster the ability to catch a glimpse of the silence – silence that is always present beneath the noise within us. With time and by God’s grace I am learning to rest in the silence for longer moments.
Silence is God in charge. When I’m at my best in silence, I get an overwhelming feeling that I am not in charge. I get a profound sense that God is in charge and that life is mysterious. And no matter what struggles come my way, God has a way to redeem them. I like to think that I trust God, silence helps me to live that trust.
Silence and love are complimentary. On the surface, the language of love and the language of silence may seem like contradictions. Love implies connection, which in turn implies communication, whether through words, touch, gesture, actions. Silence, however, seems the very opposite in that it suggests the absence of noise and emptiness in which true communication or contact may seem impossible.
Perhaps, instead of seeing silence and love as opposites, we can take a step back and consider how they may be complimentary on our inner landscape where we hope to encounter God. Love and silence need each other and combine with one another to form a whole. The whole being the language of God.
Silence provides us with countless opportunities. “Silence gives us a new way of looking at everything. We need this silence in order to touch souls” (Mother Teresa). Silence makes it possible for the authentic self to rise to the surface, introducing a new divine power or grace into this dimension of reality. It imparts insight, and ultimately, wisdom borne out of the depths to the realisation of the soul itself.
Befriending silence merely means opening up a space in our life where all that silence represents – resting, waiting, not-knowing and trusting – can be attended to in our own heart. For me, this is the power of silence: it creates a deeper relationship with an infinite and mysterious God. It takes us down a path that ultimately leads to a deep friendship.
Silence is beautiful and the silence to which we lovingly attend in the name of God is the most beautiful of all.