We all have had that eerie phone call. The one where there is no speaker on the other end of the line. A dead line. A disconnect.
It can be very intimidating, listening to the sounds of silence.
I used to be a very, very quiet person. A timid girl who was afraid to get a wrong answer in school. A middle schooler who used to write notes to her friends instead of talking aloud. I guess I used to be an introspective child?
After high school speech class, I learned that talking could gain a speaker power. Public speaking was required for my degree. It certainly was useful to give confidence to a person like me who wanted to stand in the front of students in order to teach them!
I am not saying that we should always talk, nor that talking will always solve.
If anyone has been listening to the recent debates, we have all been enduring a lot of rhetorical banter. I still am prone to interrupt other, but I am trying to learn to listen more.
As a mom, I also can remember how frightening it was to have a young child playing at home and hear, suddenly, nothing. It was often an indicator that something was wrong or that an accident had occurred.
But, in today’s obnoxious society where :
*machines chirp commercials at us while perusing aisles
*videos may begin while reading from a news website, even if we do not select them
*ring tones sounding and changing according to the caller
*cars talking to us or allowing us to talk while doing so many things at once…
…maybe we need a bit more time to reflect?
I have a friend, and former colleague of mine, who endures a hearing loss. I once asked her why she would remove her listening aides during school. She said she sometimes needed NOT to hear everything. Isn’t that the truth?
For her, relaxation often is the form of quiet reflection, walking, or just being alone. I used to think that behavior to be a bit strange, that is until I started to go to eucharistic adoration.
I have not (yet) scheduled myself for a set reflective time to be in front of the eucharist. I recently started to go since a priest suggested that I sit in silence. He said it would help ease my frustration from the normal stresses of having a full time job, life, and family.
The priest was right. Now, when I feel particularly angry or frustrated, I cannot maintain those moods if I am humbled by the body of Christ.
No one in church chats during eucharistic adoration. No one says anything. Prayers are quiet. Turning of pages are done delicately. One can almost hear the candles whispering prayers to God.
I have come to view silence differently and to respect silence. My son once visited a Holocaust memorial in Germany. When I asked him about the experience, he said, “I don’t know what to say about it. It was so quiet and no one had to tell me not to talk. You had to just be there.”
Maybe silence is a necessary part of God?
I have spent a lot of time alone in the past two weeks. This is not to say I have not seen nor talked to family and friends. But, as I have been home bound, recovering from surgery, I have not even turned on the radio. I take time to watch the soft fluff of falling snow, like kitten’s pads crossing verdant moss.
And…I think. I pray. I try to take advice from others and to rest. I read about the horrific events of late due to violence, conflict and hate, and I wonder.
I wonder if we are all really listening, or instead, if the sounds of hate may be able to change into silent acceptance and forgiveness.