I’ve written a little bit over the last year on this as I’ve been developing the practice of ‘silence.’ That is, having times in my day/week/month/year dedicated to being quiet, to stilling the mind, create space and to breathe a bit in the midst of all the stuff that comes. This sort of stuff, this sort of discipline, doesn’t come easy. I have to say, however, that it has been one of the best disciplines I’ve welcomed on-board.
The ability not to react, not to be immediately overwhelmed by circumstances or troubles, or in the face of some sort of ‘persecution’ at whatever level is a valuable one. The reality is that I don’t have particularly thick skin, and I don’t think developing thick skin is the answer to life’s challenges. I don’t want to be unfeeling, insensitive, unthinking. We do, however, need a buffer or a filter through which to detach from our gut responses and to sit with things for a while. When we take everything to heart, and when every comment can cut like a knife, we realise that we need to reassess our strategies.
Fr Richard Rohr has this to say about silence:
“Silence is what surrounds everything. It is the space between letters, words, and paragraphs that makes them decipherable and meaningful. When you can train yourself to reverence the silence around things, you first begin to see things in themselves. This “divine” silence is before, after, and between all events for those who see.”
If I am to live a life of Loving God and Loving my Neighbour, then to see from a more contemplative stance is a helpful perspective. If my frame of reference for my reactions and responses is ‘me’, then its difficult to be engaged in the ‘love of the other.’ For me, silence has become the necessary space between receipt and response. Sometimes the silence is momentary, sometimes longer. It is impossible to take things back once uttered. It loving God and others is a priority, silence may well turn out to be our greatest friend.