s i l e n c e
Why is it so hard far me?
I believe that silence may be the hardest thing in the world for me. I cannot be silent, especially when I am alone. Ironically the easiest place for me to be silent is in a crowd…but all on my own? Impossible.
On the drive home from Winnipeg this afternoon I noticed something. First of all let me back up. The radio in the work vehicle is broken. So aside from the sound of the road there is nothing else to distract me from myself. At any rate I noticed that rather than drive in contemplative contentment I spent the entire first hour of the drive singing. I sang every single song I knew and made up shit too. I sang so much that it all ran together…there was no space between songs. For a full hour I kept this up.
When I realized what I was doing I stopped and committed myself to the remaining 45 minutes in silence.
After 90 seconds I whistled something. Mentally, I chastised myself and then three minutes later I spoke to myself outloud in a silly voice as I read a sign I was driving past. More frustration and exerted self-discipline kept me quiet for another five minutes before the next slip. It kept on like that for the remaining drive home. A completely failed effort.
– silence –
Why is it so hard for me?
Shouldn’t it be the easiest of the disciplines? After all the only thing required is keeping your mouth shut.
When I was in seminary I went on a spiritual retreat and part of the retreat was five hours of silent contemplation. After 10 minutes I found another classmate and spent the rest of the day with him…silence is impossible.
How many other voices do I drown out in my attempt to drown my own? My memories. Myself. What am I losing in this rage against the quiet?
One of my favorite books is Silence by Shusaku Endo. It is about the silence of God and our response to that. If silence is a discipline is God exercising it? In my failure to be silent am I failing to comprehend something of the value of God’s silence – even in the face of suffering?
Is my noise not a buffer against a quiet understanding of God and myself?
It is so hard for me.