These past couple weeks I have posted very little because I have been away from home visiting my dearest friend, Laura Romaine, and joining her in holy week missions in Chicago. Recently she wrote a meditation on silence so beautiful and so full of inspiration that I asked her to let me post it, and she kindly agreed. Silence is certainly a very important part of all our lives, and deserves much attention. I hope you enjoy these words as I have.
Meditations In Silence
When two persons talk, the level of intimacy between them can be measured by the amount of silence. New acquaintances or teenage school girls will chatter, sometimes incessantly. Close friends may discuss, allow pause to consider their words, think, or simply to enjoy the others' company. Lovers may not talk at all, but gaze with moonstruck eyes and words only after the moment is broken.
Yet God always speaks in silence. When we are in His company, we never hear His voice loud, but only in the placidity at our hearts. It is because he is the closest to us, is the only one who can see into our innermost depths. Our own devotion to Him can also be measured by how comfortable we are in that silence. Is it necessary to speak all the time? Is a Mass without singing not worth attending? It is so easy to cover up that still, small voice with our own talking, our own thoughts.
In nature, things grow and develop in silence. A flower's petals open quietly, the sun beams coax shoots out of the ground in silent synchronization. As a child forms in his mother's womb, the loudest sound is a heartbeat, steady breathing, the shift of bone and muscle, the flow of blood--
This silence is nurturing. Silence is not a visual, but rather a space with room for the most mystic and spiritual things. We can reach out through silence to grasp this. We can immerse ourselves in silence to receive grace, strength, and courage.
The sister of silence is music. Music is like a tapestry woven of the strings of quiet. Small pieces of that rich depth are chosen to create a theme, to come together in harmonies. It takes relevant pieces that our minds can comprehend as well as our hearts. Yet still, the richest part of music is the eloquent pauses, where we drink briefly of that overwhelming font, before retreating again to the simplified melodies. Music often sits beside silence in life's dance, the rhythm of a heart, the harmonies of wind, the gentle rustling of leaves, muted scrape of petal against petal. All create sweet music which we attempt to amplify with our own voices and instruments.
If music is the sister of silence, noise is her enemy. Modern "music" resembles in many ways a white noise, a cacophonous and overwhelming mess of sound, designed to drive thought and growth out of our minds, and God out of our hearts. The noise of television, of yelling, explosions of sound which destroy our appreciation for the euphonic. Filled up with empty noise, we not only begin to dislike true music, but also become uncomfortable with silence. In the Screwtape letters, the devil writes "Music and Silence, how I hate them both!" Where the music of joyful laughter and prayer and holy song abides, he cannot enter. Where silence reigns, he cannot enter. We can only come into contact with the devil through noise-crying and screaming, pounding, raving, gossip and slander--all are ways the devil can create a place of communication. Even the worry, fear, or distraction of our own minds can give him welcome. Restless souls must find their repose with the God who speaks in gentle peace, or they will keep running a fruitless race to achieve rest where it can never be found.
Maritain wrote that "men are afraid of what is great, profound, violent, and definitive." We then, naturally shy from the encounter with God, and so fill the moments of peace with emptiness of input. Perhaps this was the fall off the angels, as in the silence of the void God first spoke a song, and His heavenly world bore worlds and stars and celestial beings. Angels joined his song, and stars joined His songs, each with his small, but distinct and harmonious part. Perhaps a note arose, not in harmony with the others, discordant from pride and disobedience. It was this note, perhaps that began the war, full of noise as rebellious angels were driven out of heaven.
We, on earth, by attuning our wills to God and bringing our thoughts to him through the day join the Son begun at creation, and when we rebel against him, we create violent unrest and cacophonous discord.