Silence will speak more to you in a day than the world of voices can teach you in a lifetime.
Find silence. Find solitude – and having discovered her riches, bind her to your heart.*
Do you find your quiet talents going unused and unnoticed in a world that values bravado, celebrity, publicity, and money?’**
Have you ever been in one of those situations where everyone in the group is sharing something. You can feel the pressure building as more people say something. With five minutes to go, you go around the circle and realise everyone has made at least one contribution, except for you. What can you say? Something profound, but what?
I wish I could say I’ve cracked it, that I now feel comfortable being one of those, perhaps the only one, not to say anything out loud.
Terry Tempest Williams writes about the irony of our existence:
“We are infinitesimal in the grand scheme of evolution, a tiny organism on Earth. And yet, personally, collectively, we are changing the planet through our voracity, the velocity of our reach, our desires, our ambitions, and our appetites. We multiply, our hunger multiplies, and our insatiable craving accelerates.
Consumption is a progressive disease.
We believe in more, more possessions, more power, more war. Anywhere, everywhere our advance of aggression continues.”^
This behaviour is anything but quiet and Williams continues by pointing out where the un-quiet begins:
“My aggression toward myself is the first war.
Wilderness is an antidote to the war within ourselves.”^
We discover things about ourselves in solitude and silence that we can never find in the whirl and swirl with others or the world of constant sound. A moment of presence, though, is able to connect our small self with the largeness that we are a part of and which fills us. There’s something about this exploration of smallness that leads to the discovery and experience of something big.
This in turn alters the way we create and enter space with others. This is a different way of being with others than those whom Martin Buber identifies as having We-We relationships:
‘Theirs is a sheltered, childish world in which no individuality has yet emerged.’^^
Buber ultimately wants to reveal the richness of the I-Thou relationship, a term full of Richard Rohr’s re-spect:
‘We know things in their depth only by the second gaze of love.’^^
I know you, but do I know thou?
In solitude and silence, we’re offered an opportunity to discover our “I am” in relationship and connection to everyone and everything. Silence and solitude are neither empty nor lonely spaces, but overwhelmingly rich and full:
‘Wonder is a beautiful style of perception; when you wonder at something, your mind voyages deep into its possibility and nature. You linger among its presence.’*^
(*Frances Roberts, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)
(^Terry Tempest Williams, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Hour of Land.)
(^^From Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance.)
(*^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)