18 February 2011

The Beauty of Silence

I was just reading a book that reminded me of the beauty of silence.  Silence isn’t something that I experience completely in life, for I live in a world that seems to depend on noise for communication.  While I may be able to experience some quiet moments here and there, it’s quite rare to experience true silence.

The truest silence I’ve ever felt was in a lava tube, which is basically a very long cave.  It was located in the middle of a pine forest, so it was pretty quiet outside of the tube already.  But once I hiked in a couple of hundred yards or so, I turned off my light and sat down—and there was nothing to hear except my own breathing.  It was an amazing experience, hearing nothing at all.  It was very soothing and peaceful, and I felt my mind slowing down,  the thoughts in my head coming not as quickly and not in such great quantities.

Silence can be that way.  It can help us to find momentary peace, and that peace can help us to deal with the noisy times with much more calmness, much more balance.  Silence can help us to get in touch with deeper parts of ourselves, if we simply allow the silence to be rather than turning on music or a television set simply to fill the moment with sound.  Silence is a balm, an ointment for our spirits, yet we seek it out so rarely that we don’t give ourselves the chance to experience silence’s touch.

Silence is a lot like food—we need it for nourishment, but food isn’t going to just jump into our mouths.  We have to seek it out, to choose it, and eat it, making the effort to prepare it and chew it and swallow it.  Seeking out food is pretty simple, because we grow weak without it.  Unfortunately, we don’t see or feel as clearly the effects of not having silence in our lives.  It isn’t until we seek it out and experience it that we see the positive effects that it can have for us.

 Silence stands outside the world of profit and utility.
It cannot be exploited for profit; you cannot get
anything out of it.  It is unproductive, therefore
it is regarded as useless.  Yet there is more help and
healing in silence than in all useful things.

Max Picard

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