“Drink in the silence. Seek solitude. Listen to the silence. It will teach you. It will build strength. Let others share it with you. It is little to be found elsewhere.’*
‘[I]n the psychoanalytic tradition, one speaks about narcissism not to indicate people who love themselves, but a personality so fragile that it needs constant support.’**
I’m challenged by the silence. Where I live can be so quiet at night that if I waken I hear nothing at all – I even wear earplugs to keep the silence out (really it’s to manage the occasional sounds appearing louder in the quietness). But I’m appreciating how silence isn’t empty, quite the opposite – how it’s is possible to tune into the inaudible or invisible, into the quantumness of it all.
‘And the set of possibilities being infinite as it is, if there is even a fraction of possibilities we cannot imagine, then there is an infinite number of possibilities we cannot imagine.”^
In the silence, we discover how life is more than we’ve been able to so far imagine. How, then, do we listen, though, in a world which drowns out the silence? In which silence and solitude are not valued or seen as useful? In which our digital children have to be connected at all times, in danger of becoming Narcissus and on the other end of the call there is Echo^^ with ‘made-to-measure representations’ being received?** That is, friends who say only what we want to hear. Tom Rath’s Vital Friends names eight kinds of friend that make for healthier relationships, including with ourselves.*^ And so we make a real difference for one another.
‘Visonaries hold out for two and two making five, and they help people to turn their situations around.’^*
Life is richer through the silence. It’s full of people and places and possibilities. As we continue to be people in transition, I hope we’ll understand technology, as much fun as it is, is but a veneer covering our deeper and more ancient needs for significant relationships and service.
(*Frances Roberts, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)
(^From Alan Lightman’s Mr g. These are the words of the Stranger to the Creator in Lightman’s story of creation.)
(^^Erwin McManus labels this “the drowning pool”: ‘Narcissus’ greatest admirer was a nymph called Echo. They were, after all, a perfect match. He only spoke about himself, and she in turn could only repeat his self-indulgent praise.’ From McManus’s Uprising.)
(*^The eight kinds of friends/friendships are: Builders, Champions, Collaborators, Companions, Connectors, Encouragers, Mind-openers, Navigators.)
(^*From Harriet Harris’s Faith Without Hostages.)