Silence

“Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation” – James Thurber

Do you ever long for silence?  I do.  I’m a writer, so that means that my work is all about words.  In addition to creative writing, a writer is expected to blog, tweet, post on Facebook, post on Goodreads, and comment on others’ blogs, tweets and posts.  The appeals seem endless.  Now, you may argue that these are all silent words –  but are they?  They act upon the ears of the mind just as much as spoken sounds.

What is the true silence we long for?  It is, for me, the wordless silence of a still mind.  Still – undistracted by words.  In it we hear the silent language of tree, of rock, of mountain and plain, of God.  These voices tell us what is real.  Our words, at their best, witness to this reality; but if we cannot be still enough to hear it, how can we speak its truth?

I want my writing to reflect the deeper reality, to put into words what I hear without them.  I cannot do this without silence.

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5 Responses to Silence

  1. jimmyonapa says:

    The sound of the silence of air when the wind isn’t blowing is haunting. The Holy Ghost is the sound of rushing wind, without words. God can be listened to without words in silence in everlasting ways. For all eternity, I will be listening to Him.

  2. I for one am looking forward to your next words, for you have an ability to speak to that silence, which, I believe, is a holy one (silence and gift), inspired by God. Sometimes it’s what we the readers know or experience between the words that touches our hearts, and you have the gift to give us that. Keep writing, Susan! Our world needs more of Ambrose and more Menchian Chronicles!

  3. frthomas says:

    Thank you for this extremely challenging post. I have read it five times, listening for the Word speaking through the words. Indeed, listening for Him in and through you.

    Here is what I hear/realize for myself and my journey of salvation at this point.

    I also find the silence/stillness and the “deep reality” from which it proceeds, of which you speak, while difficult to access, does exist, deep within me and around me.

    “Being there,” and living from there, so to speak, is a struggle for me. The struggle is to choose the silence/stillness instead of the “noisy desperation.” The choosing, for me, is a letting go, an opening up, a trusting. All of this over against what also exists within me — a lack of trust, closed-ness, and grasping.

    I need to withdraw from others for this AND I need to lean into the saving conversation with others for this. For me it is not one or the other, but both. Not noisy desperation or enforced defensive silence.

    Some third, paradoxical alternative that is not a solution to a problem but a path to walk.

    The paradise of which you speak, so fruitful and expansive, is, for me, a “third place.”

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

  4. Susan says:

    How wonderful! When I try to get there (let go, open up, trust) on my own, my mind runs in familiar rabbit trails. But all your comments make the way open up before me; I just close my eyes and find myself there. As you say, Fr. Thomas, a paradoxical alternative of both/and, wordlessness and words.

    I like your phrase, “enforced defensive silence” – a sure recipe for rabbit trails.

    What to do when there is no “other” nearby to share the “saving conversation”? Ah. The likes of Merton. Lewis. Traherne.

  5. frthomas says:

    The presence, support, and voice of these folks is not limited by time and space. They are always there for us. It is so important for me to draw on them and converse with them and let them converse with me.

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