If you know me you know that I am extraverted and have no lack of ability to talk. I may even talk your ear off. I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of talking too much. What you may not know about me, however, is that I love silence. People who know me very well, know this about me. I love silence.
When I drive I usually drive in silence. I do not listen to the radio. Ever. I will occasionally listen to music from a CD or talk while driving but I enjoy driving in silence.
Every year I tend to visit a monastery for a private retreat and spend most of my time in silence. Aside from some occasional small conversations or ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ I tend to spend the time in silence. Most often while working in my office I tend to keep it pretty silent. I will occasionally play music, but I do not do this very often.
While I am on my Sabbatical I am going to spend a great deal of the time in silence. I am visiting three Benedictine monasteries and will be silent most of the time I am at these places. One of the locales, Christ in the Desert in New Mexico, is located in a canyon where no one else lives. It is 13 miles away from the highway and very secluded. The monks claim it is so quiet there they can hear the birds fly. I am looking forward to being there.
We live in an incredibly noisy world. If you sit at home one day and turn the radio off and the television off you’ll find there is still a lot of noise. Dogs are barking in the neighborhood. Appliances make noise. Dogs are barking in the neighborhood. The heating or air conditioning makes noise. There is neighborhood noise. Dogs are barking in the neighborhood. There are cars driving by. Dogs are barking in the neighborhood. You may have guessed, we have some incredibly not courteous neighbors around us who leave their dogs out to bark incessantly.
We live in a world where information literally blasts away at us. We watch television and we are bombarded with images. We watch insipid ‘comedies’ where we never laugh. In reviewing the bulk of my television watching, virtually every show I see begins with a killing or some dreadful crime. Watching the news is often painful. It is most typically ‘opinion’ with some current events thrown in.
I will not listen to the radio. There are exceptions of course, but most of what I hear on the radio is a blasting away of opinions which may or may not be based on any particular factual foundation. There is music I’m not interested in listening to, and religious programming which often offends me more than it edifies me. I have eliminated the radio from my life. I know there is some good material on the radio but I will not even bother.
We receive information overloads constantly and we rarely have the opportunity to be still and be quiet and allow anything to penetrate our hearts, our minds, and our souls.
Often when I pray I like to be in a quiet place, pray Psalms so I’m not using my own words, and just sit still and be. Psalm 46 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Often we cannot ‘hear’ God unless we stop, sit still, and be silent. Silence is an amazing virtue and one I am enjoying exploring.