Silence, like the practices of Sabbath and slowing, offers an exit ramp to get out of the fast lane - a chance to press pause, take deep breath-break, renew, restore, be still and get quiet.
On the spur of the moment Friday afternoon, a young mother of three young children, also a teacher of preschool, called me. She blurted out when I answered the phone - “I need some silence!” She then asked if she could come to our guesthouse and just sit in some silence alone. Her husband would keep the children. “I can’t even think; my head is spinning.”
Silence, an across the board need, is necessary to even be able to collect your thoughts, think and restore your soul.
In an interview with Melinda Gates*, who travels internationally for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation working on behalf of global health, education, economic growth, she was asked, “How do you keep from feeling overwhelmed?”
“I take a lot of time in Silence – before I come home from a trip, during the trip, at home in the mornings. I take quiet. Because only in that quiet time can you kind of shut out the noise of the world and really take in what you‘ve heard and what you’ve seen. I’ve seen a lot of misery and even death in the developing world. But you have to take that in and you have to process it.”
Intentional observance of silence is not a new idea from the 21st century. It is as old as creation as stated in scripture.
1. Modeled in Creation
Genesis 2:2-3 “[B]y the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all he had done.”
2. Posture for recognizing God
Psalmist 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
3. The necessity modeled by Jesus
Mark 6:31 “The because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
4. Invited to by Jesus
Matthew 11: 28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
5. It is critical for soul survival
Psalm 42:11 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God.”
Isaiah 55: 2a-3 “Listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.”
6. Souls starved by activism**
Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you O God. My soul thirsts for God the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
How would silence help you meet your own current soul needs? What can you do about this?
*Costco Gates Interview, May 2019, Costco Connection, p.36-37
** “Souls Starved by activism” Arthur Michael Ramsey (1904-1988) argued that there was not enough quiet in the world. He loved spaces and places of silence. As the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury in England (1961-1974) toward the end of one millennia his cultural comment was that “we are souls starved by activism.”
Picture courtesy Andrew Seidel