Silence is rare in our every day life yet at the same time it is more important than ever before. We need to give our senses a break every now and then. Otherwise this storm of lights, sounds and smells that surrounds us daily would crush us. But unfortunately often enough we are unable to find it, not just because our surroundings are so loud but also because we have a hard time finding it in ourselves. Yet sometime the need for silence becomes a true craving. What is this craving? I believe it is God asking us to listen. Not just to Him but also to ourselves. It is God’s way of inviting you to give yourself a break and spend some quality time with him. It is an invitation to become intimate with God, to be with him in a deep, all consuming silence where you can feel him closer than at any other time.
But what about prayer then?
Is prayer not quality time with God? Of course it is. But prayer is often loud, even if we only say the words in our minds. Words, even those uttered with the purest mind and the most loving heart will always distract us from God. Words are a barrier. We do not need to tell God what He already knows. Prayer is not something we do FOR God. It is something we do for ourselves. Sometimes we just need to talk to someone who listens, someone who understands. Sometimes we just need to put all that is in our minds and hearts into words. Sometimes we feel the urge to thank God, or ask Him for something. Sometimes prayer is our form of praise. But whatever prayer is for us in the different moments of our lives, it is always first for us and then for God. He is omnipresent and omniscient. He does not require prayer. He will not grant us something, or shield us from something only because we pray for it. We cannot bribe our God with words. So is prayer unimportant? Oh no. It is very important! Talking to God and spending time with Him is never wrong and never unimportant. In fact prayer can be like a dinner date with God, or a fight. It can be beautiful like a walk through a forest in spring, cosy like a warm fireplace and a cup of tea in winter, or even desperate and painful like a long hike through a desert. So yes, prayer is good. But quality time with God doesn’t stop there. In fact, a very special time with God only starts once we stop praying, once our words run dry and we become silent. Then what was talking to God becomes listening. What was being in God’s presence becomes being IN God.
To be with God in silent adoration without words or thoughts, without anything we have to do, or have to be is when we rest safely in His loving embrace.
But the world is so loud, so full of distractions, isn’t it? So the craving for silence, God’s invitation into His embrace, is often ignored. Sometimes all it takes is a little practice. In order to become silent and be with God, we do not have to shut the world out. The world is God’s beloved creation so it does not make sense to close our eyes and ears to it in order to feel closer to God. Yet, there are different aspects of the world we can focus on that will help us to find that silent, peaceful place deep in our souls where God is waiting for us.
Silence of the Eyes: Let us focus on the beauty that God put in the world to make us happy. We can so easily find it in the landscapes, the flight of a bird or our fellow human beings. Yes, the beauty that God created for us is right there in our parents, siblings, partners and friends. It is so easy for us to find it there. But it can also be found in our colleagues, our boss, the police officer who gives you a ticket, the youth with the impossible clothes, the crying baby on the bus. God created them so He can love them. Again, God created everyone of us to be lovable and beautiful. Let us learn to focus on that beauty, that love that God put in our everyday lives out of his sheer utter goodness. Let us open our eyes to that and close them to the faults in others. Let us close our eyes to what we cannot change and what is hurtful to the soul. This will help our sight to be silent and less disturbing to our inner peace.
Silence of the Ears: Why don’t we try to focus on first and foremost hearing the voice of God? No, no one expects you to be quiet all the time so a bodiless whisper can reach your ears. God’s voice can be heard in many ways, be it in the gentle words of a friend or the outcry of the poor and the ones in need. If we manage to listen to God’s voice in the words of those around us, it will be much easier to close our ears to the noises that so often disturb our inner peace. Lies, gossip and any form of hate speech can never help us to silence our hearing. Or in simpler words: If the words are full of love and acceptance, they are from God and we listen. If they are not, we should close our ears to them, no matter who speaks.
Silence of the Tongue: Not listening to what disturbs the mind is of course only one aspect. We can also try to help other people to listen more to the voice of God by simply saying what is pure and good. That doesn’t mean that we have to talk about God 24 hours a day. It simply means that when we talk to other people our words should be encouraging, should be full of joy, peace, love and hope. That is of course not always easy. Not at all. So for the beginning why don’t we try to swallow words of anger and disdain that would bring nothing but darkness and pain into the hearts of ourselves and others. And where there is pain, there can never be silence.
Silence of the Mind: It sounds incredibly difficult, if not even impossible to achieve, right? Silence of the mind. How can our minds be silent when there is nothing but turmoil, nothing but pain and death in the world? Do we have to close our mind to the suffering of others to silence it? No, that would be very far away from what God could ever want from us. Yet nothing is worse that allowing the pain of the world into our minds, pondering it and doing nothing to change it. That will only poison the mind and cause it to stay in a state of unrest, even turmoil. So why don’t we try to at least close our minds to all destructive, judgmental and vengeful thoughts and condemnation of others? Our thoughts will be so much lighter, our mood so much more peaceful.
Silence of the Heart: The heart as a symbol for love is one of the best known symbols known to mankind. Everyone knows it, everyone understands it. So why do we let so much selfishness, envy, greed and hatred into our hearts? Sure, it is only human to do so but isn’t it even more human to focus on loving each other, just like God asked us to do? There is no other way than love to bring silence into our hearts. Love is the greatest commandment and at the same time one of the easiest. We shouldn’t forget that God looks at everyone of us with love, so there must be something good and lovable in each one of us. Maybe if we focus on that more, we can truly calm our hearts and give them peace.
Yes, the world is loud and full of terror but it is in our hands to change how we see it, what we let into our minds and hearts and how we present ourselves to the world. The world is too big for us to change it all at once but we are not helpless. If we, day by day and every day anew create a little world for us and those around us we can silence the disturbing noises and thoughts and come closer to that utter silence where God is waiting for us.