Silence and Presence


In silence is encompassed presence.

Jennifer Egan has this to say:

from The Keep
Jennifer Egan

Howard: You hear those sounds? Insects, birds, but not even that. Something behind them, you hear it? It's--what? A hum, almost. But not quite. . . .

Danny listened and hear nothing, but it was a different kind of nothing than he was used to. Most quiet was like a pause, a blank spot in the usual noise, but this was thick, like you only hear in New York right after a snowstorm. Even quieter than that.

Howard: I don't want to lose that. I want this place to be about that. Not just some resort. . . .

Danny: You want the hotel to be about silence? . . .

So it'll be like a . . . retreat? Where people come and do yoga or whatever? . . .

Howard: Think about medieval times, Danny, like when this castle was built. People were constantly seeing ghosts, having visions--they thought Christ was sitting with them at the dinner table, they though angels and devils were flying around. We don't see those things anymore. Why? Was all that stuff happening before and then it stopped? Unlikely. Was everyone nuts in medieval times? Doubtful. But their imaginations were more active. Their inner lives were rich and weird.

This sparked a thought. Perhaps Angels do not visit because most people do not make a place for them to visit. Most people move from one event to the next--lives filled with endless clamor--present noise and noise of the future, interior voices shouting the schedules of where one has to be and when. Noise that isn't even perceptible until it dims. And then, in that dome of quiet there is an uneasiness--things to do, people to see, events to plan, future shadows to contend with--there is no time for the present--it is crowded out on both sides by the past and the future. The present is so slender, so tenuous, so subdued itself that it becomes a nothing in the face of the overwhelming tide of what has been and what might never be. These tsunamis crowd out all present thought--they swarm through lives and wash away whatever might be of substance.

And this is the reason that silence is so filled with fear for many. In silence one must face the present, the second hand that ticks along, one tick at a time, one slow stroke that vanishes and becomes the past. Silence encourages presence--both being and being in the present and it is only in the present, the eternal present that salvation is wrought and that Jesus is accessible to us. The Historic Jesus is manufactured for the comfort of speculators and ersatz historians; the Apocalyptic Jesus will be seen when He is present in the linear flow of time. But for us, now, here, at this moment, Jesus is present. He is present when the torrent of sound and event that is used to block him out is dimmed for a moment, when minds are released from the flood of cares to look clearly for a single moment--the eternal benediction of the Present in His Presence.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 18, 2006 10:14 AM.

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