Shhh! Be Vewy, Vewy, Qwiet!

Silence.

There is precious little of it in our lives.

Some of us crave it in small doses but most of us fear it. Silence makes us uncomfortable. It exposes our insecurities. It reveals our inability to tolerate the solitude of our own thoughts.

A Minnesota laboratory’s anechoic chamber holds the Guinness Book of World Records title as “the quietest place on earth.” Sound inside the chamber has measured at -9.4 decibels. I have read that no one has ever endured even forty-five minutes alone in its pitch-black interior before finding the silence intolerable.

I can’t imagine someone from my children’s generation lasting longer than four minutes in this chamber. This generation surrounds itself with sound 24/7. Almost as soon as they were born, as we cut the umbilical cord, they plugged themselves into a power cord with headphones.

When there is silence in conversation, we call it an awkward pause and perceive it as a failing on the part of one party or the other. We travel daily from the sounds of the alarm, to conversation, to television, to radio, to traffic, to air conditioners, to voicemails, to teleconferences, to telephones, to podcasts, to audio books, to dinner conversation, to news, to late night TV, to relaxation CD’s before bed. We swim through a sea of sound.

I have learned to seek out silence in my day. Ten minutes of stillness, quiet, sound deprivation reduces my stress and restores inner calm.

God is not afraid of silence. Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, He was silent for four hundred years. I don’t know how people endured the absence of God’s voice for centuries. I imagine many people died young.

Sometimes my mind goes silent. It’s been six days since I posted a blog. Whenever I reached for words in my mind, there was silence. In my younger years, this would have frightened me. I would have panicked and rushed to fill the void with words, any words. I would have struggled against the silence, fought back, shouted into it until I was hoarse or able to hear my own echo.

Now, though, I knew to ride the wave of silence. My mind is usually full of words. Ideas flow through my mind like plastic ducks released in a river race. Too often, my brain is a pinball game of sounds. I chose to allow the silence to come, to be, to flow. I floated upon it like a warm current through the bay, like Huck Finn on his raft, like a tourist on the Dead Sea.

The silence invaded my time with God. I tried to pray but had no words. I was tempted to struggle against that, too, until I remembered Star Trek, Spock, and the Vulcan mind meld. I invited God into the silence in my mind and we stood in it silently together, drinking it in, absorbing it, facing it without fear. We have been friends for many years and we don’t always need to exchange words to enjoy our time together.

The enemy could not harass me and tell me that silence means I was cut off from God because God was there with me in the silence. God knows this place with no words and can dwell there as well as any other place.

Silence can be threatening. It can be weapon. I have witnessed the silent treatment effectively wielded like a machete to the soul. Like a light saber, a silence saber can slice through flesh and bone and pride and hope and heart. It is a weapon of isolation.

Silence.

The book of Revelation says that at the end of the world that we know, there will be a series of seals opened. After the seventh seal, there will be silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Profound silence. Divine silence. Absolute silence.

I think in all our churches there should be a ministry of silence. There should be those who understand silence. Who are comfortable with silence, familiar with all its facets. People could come to this ministry and learn how to use silence for worship, for healing, for growth, for understanding. Others could be shown that silence was meant as gift, as a tool, as an agent of healing and not intended to be used as weapon. They could be retrained to lay down their swords of silence and beat them into plowshares for the harvesting of fruitful relationships.

Would you be a minister of silence in a noisy world? Can you pull away and allow God to minister to you through silence? Can you lay down silence as a weapon and allow God to restore its rightful place in your world?

In a world bankrupt of peace, silence is truly gold – a treasure, a balm, an oasis where God resides. When was the last time you were silent and unafraid?

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9 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Karin says:

    “We have been friends for many years and we don’t always need to exchange words to enjoy our time together.” Totally how I feel and have felt with the Lord during such a time as the past 3 months. Hubby is slowly losing more and more words, even in praying, and that statement is also about the increasing silence in our wonderful 44 yr. marriage. Just reminding myself that, ‘it’s ok.’ Thanks for this encouragement that others have similar thoughts and experiences with silence as I do.

  2. You are in my prayers today, Karin, in the words and in the silent places. 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    When I came home from Germany & France last month I started a ‘quiet hour’ for myself after lunch when Andrew went down for his nap. I loved it! Germany was so quiet and I missed that, but I still got a bit of it by turning off the music, not answering the phone, etc. for one little hour a day. I guess I’m a person who thrives in quiet, so that makes this easy, but I so agree with your thoughts on the necessity of it. I need that time to think clearly, without the impediment of the noise of life. My own brain makes so much noise on its own! 😛

  4. Cheri says:

    Beautiful post, Lori!

    Thanks,
    Cheri

  5. Andrea says:

    Just discussing this very truth, last night. Silence is indeed golden!
    Hugs,
    andrea

  6. Maurie@GraciousInteriors.blogspot says:

    Lori, You are a master of the simile! My favorites from this post: Comparing thoughts–audible and inaudible to plastic ducks released in a river race…or a pinball game of sounds. Then in the resolution half of your post you compare enjoying silence to floating…like a tourist on the Dead Sea. Maybe the comfort in silence comes with age or at least a long walk with the Savior. I love just being with the Lord!

  7. Love, love, love, love, love this! Silence and I have our own relationship and while I do run from him quite often, I’m always amazed when he wraps me up and our tie is precious and sweet. Thank you for sharing this, Lori. It is an area of my life I am growing in. 🙂

  8. Carmen says:

    A very interesting post! I love the silence and wish I experienced more of it. When I’m home alone, it’s always quiet, and I crave the quiet. There’s so much “life” in it, you know?

  9. Brenda Gale says:

    Nice post. I enjoyed it.