Life’s loud. Inside and out. Alarm clocks start us off, and from there it’s all our favorite podcasts, lectures from professors, conversations with friends, everyone else talking around us, stupid YouTube commercials, stupid YouTube videos, our sick new playlist, a billion well-informed opinions on the Book and Twit, a million beautiful captions on the Insta, a thousand lovely Snaps. And behind all that is a constant, untamed mess of thought.
In all this, I’ve forgotten that loud isn’t eternal. I’ve forgotten that all the loud can stop and leave me with terrifying, cold silence. I’ve forgotten that silence is always there, somewhere – between those dear words of a friend, there where I took that fab pic, somewhere buried under my thoughts.
But often I choose noise. Because, as I said, silence is terrifying.
I think it’s terrifying because silence strips me of everything – absolutely everything – and leaves me naked to the muddy reality of my life. If I’m not loud right now, if I don’t have an opinion, a reaction, a thought, if I’m not doing, watching, listening to something – What am I? Who am I? Why am I? Busyness – of body and mind – is our god. Quiet nothingness is the unforgivable sin.
And then loneliness trickles in like cool water out of the shower head. If I’m not loud right now, that must mean I’m alone. No one hears me. No one sees me. No one cares about me. Quick – back to Facebook, Insta, Snap, YouTube, Netflix, texting. Good heavens maybe even a call. Someone, something break this silence, please.
But silence can never be broken.
As much as we scream and tweet and whisper and sermonize and even pray, the silence will never break. Silence is eternal.
So let’s dive in. Let’s give up and give in to it. Let’s, dare I even say, cultivate it. Because what I’ve found is that much of my noise is selfish and medicating. Even the most “religious” noise. I’ve found I’ll read my Bible and listen to worship music and pray just to push back the silence, to feel some sort of spiritual something, to make my own life start working again. I’ll do whatever I can to save myself.
Loud is something we can do, we’re in control of our own loud. But we can’t do silence. We can only give in to it, surrender to it, accept it as a gift. And maybe that gift isn’t as cold and scary as we think. Maybe when Silence strips us of everything we have and are – absolutely everything – maybe then we’ll finally see we don’t have to do anymore. It’s not up to us anymore. We don’t have to always be loud. We can finally rest in the peace and presence of eternal Silence.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
– Isaiah 30
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
– Psalm 62
But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
for it cannot be quiet,
and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
– Isaiah 57
The greater our love, the fewer words we use.
– Francisco de Osuna