Silence is a bit deceiving. Silence can not only seem a bit devoid of everything, empty, an invisible box that needs to be filled. If only we could see it, like an empty glass that needs filling. Silence is usually looked as that uncomfortable pause of a first date, the question “why me” that lingers throughout the halls of any hospital cancer ward, that hiker who becomes lost in the great outdoors–these are those times we search for perfect phrasing, the right words, or that echoing answering call that is heard in silence.
Silence is complex, it’s both awkward or appropriate at the same time. It can also be a form of punishment. Who can remember like I can that dreaded “quiet time out”? Or being sent to your room for some mischief our little fertile minds led us into, that trouble where we received what seemed like an eternity of silence. Is this how we perceive getting the silent treatment, when and if, despite of our best efforts we pray to God? Isn’t it supposed to work like this–I pray, make some self-absorbed requests and God answers, sooner not later? Silence, is only what we hear though. Is this our punishment, for something we did but not yet revealed?
Over time I have learned the value of having many times in life, that luxury of standing alone underneath a star-studded tapestry looking up in silence at the Milky Way, or on some high over look after a long hike, or being alone on some shore line on a high mountain lake. Where even the jumping fish barley make a sound. My busy life left far behind. My working world completely diminished in the vastness of nature.
Barbara Brown Taylor said of silence,
“Silence is as much a sign of God’s presence as of God’s absence–that Devine silence is not a vacuum to be filled but a mystery to be entered into, unarmed with words and Undistracted by noise.”
“The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silent before him.”—Habakkuk 2:20
In any human form when we find our soul-mate, that kind of relationship, within those deepest of human to human forms of relationship where a word need not be spoken to hear the thoughts of the other. Is that what God is looking for from us with his silence?
It seems we all are a bit to quick to fill every waking moments of life with distractions, that everyday noise of life. Finding a break from it all is truly our blessing, a gift from God.
Maybe we should contemplate answers to prayer; that at times answers to prayer are only received through actions from another (sometimes perfect strangers) humans impressed to act, to speak up, or to just offer a silent commiserating hug. Answers to someone else prayer born out of silent thought leading to actions that bless others who silently need answers to their prayers. Sometimes those answers we seek don’t arrive quickly enough because we refuse to act–not quite recognizing that God seeks a personal relationship, a partnership with us, and silence is that invitation.
All the best.