Reflections on Silence


Sometimes silence is more difficult than at other times. Sometimes silence is comfortable--a space to be with God. Other times silence is merely being alone. God may be present in the silence but circumstances preclude the recognition of His hand in what is going on. Silence is simply emptiness. It may be good to experience these times of emptiness, but more often than not it is a trial. Worse yet is to be within a pocket of silence while everything around you seems to be in a whirl. You see life going on outside the little vacuum that defines your present world and you wonder what it is you do to join that boisterous, seemingly fun crowd.

Silence, however, does always nurture dependence on God, and it may be one reason that we try so hard to avoid it. We fill our time and space with noise, sometimes small, insignificant noise, but sometimes enormous, overwhelming noise. We seek to avoid too close an encounter. We reason, we think, we fill our time with small disputes, argumentations, conversations, thoughts. Or we fill silence with music, television, telephone conversation, anything to avoid facing the reality that sits immediately beneath the surface. Much of our business is simply the flurry that gives us excuse to ignore the invitation from the Almighty.

Still, we are human, silence is only ocassionally comfortable, and as one progresses, silence becomes progressively less comfortable. As one is weighed down under the normal routines and burdens of life, silence becomes the time when all the cares, concerns, troubles, and potential disasters rush in at once. How do we avoid the press of concerns and move through the silence to the place we ought to occupy--an awed and loving gaze at the Father, Creator, King of All?

I have no simple answer, but I do have the advice of a great many pray-ers from the past that tells me that you do not seek to avoid these things. Rather, you let them flow over and through you into the hands of God Himself. In itself, this is a form of prayer. God knows our concerns and they will come like harpies to pick and distract. If we hand them over immediately, they may still return. But the process is continual--every time they stop by to interrupt us, we hand them over to God. Eventually we will be able to entrust them to Him, and we will stop being distracted. More than that, the things that concern and frighten us will begin to have less power over us. We won't dismiss them, but we will being to understand that they are in hands far more capable than our own.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 18, 2003 8:07 AM.

More From Thich Nhat Hanh: On Longing for Irresistable Grace was the previous entry in this blog.

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