We are surrounded by noise. We are woken up by it in the early morning hours when our alarms go off and our bedside radio's go on automatically. Dogs bark, children shout, parents run through the day's programme, motorists blast their horns, teenagers bob to the rhythm of the music blaring from the car radio or on their i-pods, whistles blow, computers hum, telephones ring. You get the idea.
Our days are filled with continuous sound. When we return home, we immediately switch the radio or television on to fill the house with background noise. We fear the silence. Silence is so foreign to our existence today that it makes us feel ill at ease. We have no appreciation for silence in our lives.
We equate silence with something that is lacking, absent from our lives. Silence means we are alone, deprived of company. We feel threatened by it. We immediately need to fill the silence with sound, with noise.
Wherever people get together, they immediately begin to fill the silence in with words, with mundane chatter or ear-deafening music. Conversations are carried on above the sound of the television playing in the background. Strangers fear the silence that threatens to develop between questions and comments. Even churches are continuously filled with music even during times of silent prayer, lest the silence would find a way into my thoughts.
We view our verbal abilities as a testimony of our education, we use it to convince, to rule, to impress. Boastful people make sure that everyone else is quiet so that they can have everybody's full attention. Very often our verbal communication is merely empty chatter, and a continuous repetition of what others have already said. When we are quiet, silently looking on, people tend to view us with a certain amount of suspicion. They do not understand silence, and feel insecure in its presence. Mostly people would try to entice the quiet person into having a conversation, and if that fails, would then proceed to ignore the person as if the quiet, introspective person ceases to be of any importance.
We are so busy complying with the world's addiction to noise and sound that we have forgotten the importance of silence. Only in the silence can we begin to truly hear again, to listen. Our spirit, our soul is crying out to be heard. God is trying to reach us, communicate with us. As long as we keep up the sound pollution, we cannot begin to listen, to understand. Silence is not just empty time, devoid of something. Silence has presence, it is filled with an energy of its own. Silence has substance. Only when we are silent can we hear the spirit's guiding voice.
In the quiet our senses start to become more acute. When we are not so busy thinking up new words to utter we start hearing better. The tremble of insecurity in my child's voice, the silent scream of depression, the way fear is disguised in an angry voice. We also begin to see better, to notice the hidden sadness behind a brave smile.
Maybe it is time to schedule silence into our busy lives. To consciously spend time away from all external sound, to even switch of our internal dialogue, and just be quiet. To breathe deep, being completely conscious. To listen.
I ask you this week to make a concerted effort to spend 10 minutes everyday to just be quiet, to listen with your heart, to hear the voice of the Spirit......
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