Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Never Enough Silence

I have just turned down a chance to take on another teaching assignment, a one-day workshop, because, as I explained to the university, I have three editing jobs with deadlines approaching, two lectures to prepare for January-February, and my own work, of course.

I didn't mention that I have Christmas cards to write, packages to wrap, shopping to complete, etc.--the usual pre-holiday rush--even here, in a house without kids or grandkids, where the quiet serenity of the literary life, supposedly, reigns.

And so it was good to see in the e-mail In-box a message from the Friends of Silence. When I see that name, I want to say, We should all be friends of silence.

The newsletter asks (quoting T. S. Eliot): Is there enough silence for the Word to be heard? The answer is "Never"! We don't listen well to each other much less to God, yet for Christians in this Advent season, slowing down and lying fallow, as the earth does, are essential for any kind of spirituality.

As the Friends state, we need "time to be fallow, time just to be, to listen and dream and wait for the wisdom at the center of our being to make itself known to us before we enter again into a busy season of doing."

Perfectly said. When I wish people peace at Christmas, this is essentially what I am wishing for them--and for myself. I wish everyone could develop the habit of silence, of taking time each day to return to the deep silence at the center of our being and wait there for the still small voice of God.

That is what Thomas Merton articulated. And Swami Amar Jyoti put it this way: "The silence within us is the source of all we are."

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