When I was in college, I loved a song by Simon and Garfunkle–“The Sounds of Silence.” In it, silence was presented in a negative way…as a cancer that grows…as something that separates people.
But silence can also be a profoundly powerful experience.
I just returned from a weekend contemplative retreat…an opportunity to use silence as a way of “going deeper” in a community that is taking a spiritual journey together.
We had opportunity to come together and share with each other verbally–but we also had significant time to choose not to have to speak. That didn’t mean we ignored each other…far from it! We discovered there are other ways of communicating, ways that often say more than our words do.
When we did talk, we discovered that taking time to intentionally consider our words meant that what we did say had the opportunity of being more meaningful.
But perhaps more importantly, we had the opportunity in the silence to listen for the voice of God…a voice too often drowned out in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
And we heard that voice in many ways…in the songs of the birds…in the gentle breeze…in the smiles and hugs we shared with each other…and yes, even in the words that came to our minds as we intentionally listened for them.