SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Do we ever stop and think? Has silence become so taboo that we are afraid of losing touch with the real world if we indulge in being still? There is a good chance that somewhere along the way we have replaced useful silence. This reality can be both felt and measured in the cultural shift towards constant connection that has been developing over the past several years.
Barbara Brown Taylor is a renowned preacher and writer who identifies this trend in her book, When God is Silent:
“There are fewer and fewer oases of silence in our noisy world. Communication has a higher value for us than contemplation. Information is in greater demand than reflection. There was a time when only doctors wore pagers and the only person who carried a telephone around with him was the president of the United States, in case of nuclear attack. Now we are all that important. We can be found anywhere, at any time, by anyone who needs us. When a pager goes off in a room full of people, a banner unfurls above the wearer’s head: I am necessary. I am involved in something so urgent it cannot wait.”
Even as her observation regarding hearing a “pager” seems a bit dated to the modern ear, Taylor’s words recognize our noisy world as increasingly void of silence. Do we see this as a bad thing? Maybe we do equate noise with importance. The cell phone constantly alerting a new text message, post, or tweet. Emails wait to be returned no matter the hour, and even the best cable or satellite package or premium subscription service with multiple screen access overwhelms the silent moments. Taylor goes on to state that it is increasingly difficult to choose silent moments when communication in any form is possible.
If we choose, stillness can be an indulgence worth experiencing. Stillness could be a few extra moments in the hammock, or an extra block added to an afternoon walk. Stillness can expand into a time of spiritual contemplation or devotion. In other words, our faith journey can certainly be enhanced with silent moments which may or may not be measured by physical activity.
The question remains with us; are we able to be quiet? Are we able to be still? Next time you feel what Barbara Brown Taylor describes as “that important,” remember that God calls us to regular Sabbath keeping— rest, silence, stillness, reconnection. My hope is that we make the time, and in doing so support the need for Sabbath within our families and friends. Start small; you may be surprised at what you are missing!
Your fellow servant,
Dr. Jim Hunter, II
If we choose, stillness can be an indulgence worth experiencing.
. . . The question remains with us; are we able to be quiet? Are we able to be still?