For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5
When I started this spiritual discernment fast two weeks ago, I did not know what to expect. I thought, “How hard can it be–turning off my audiobooks from 6am to 6pm daily? It’s only silence; Right?!!” As it turned out, turning off audiobooks during the day is changing something in me. I don’t know what yet, but I can tell you that I notice noise more. I live on a busy street; lots of traffic, even at night. When I stopped turning on my audiobooks first thing in the morning, playing them all day, and falling asleep at night still listening; I could now hear the traffic and it was suddenly loud in the new silence. I could not fall asleep easily for the first few days of my spiritual fast. Even the ticking of my clock seemed to get louder and louder competing with the traffic for dominance. Rather than silence, I was bombarded with sounds and noise.
But, after about a week, I began to notice the noise less and pay attention to the silence. The traffic and ticking became background sounds. I began to read myself to sleep and fall asleep in the silence of my mind; in the peace of my spirit. Rather than wrapping my mind around an audiobook, I began to listen in the silence. “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10. I had begun to turn off the noise I used to fill up my life so I could begin to hear God calling–quietly. Thich Nhat Hanh, the revered Buddhist monk and activist writes in his book, Silence: The Power of Silence in a World Full of Noise, “The basic condition for us to be able to hear the call of beauty and respond to it is silence. If we don’t have silence in ourselves–if our mind, our body , are full of noise–then we can’t hear beauty’s call.” (p3) I would replace “beauty” with “God” and you may prefer “beauty”. I would say it’s true for both. We need to have “silence in ourselves” and one way to begin is to turn off some of the noise we bring into our lives.
After two weeks I can’t say I have any answers. I really don’t have the questions. I only have my plea: Speak Lord. I have turned off my noise. I am listening. What’s important now is not having the answers, but to have the space to listen, to have an open spirit, to have a mind at peace–in the silence.
Rachel Naomi Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal, adds, “Understanding often requires a retreat into inner stillness, a movement away from frustration toward an expectant listening, an openness to understanding paired with a willingness to go without understanding until you have become ready to receive it.” (p107)
Next: Who are your people? Nehemiah rebuilds with others.