Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On silence

In the chaos of today's world, silence is a luxury that most of us cannot afford anymore, or we avoid for reasons I cannot fathom. I don't know if it's just me, but it seems like a lot of people avoid silence. Whether it is silence in the company of other people, or silence when you are alone, most people just don't seem to be comfortable with it. 

Why do most people feel the need to fill the silent gaps with conversation, no matter how inane? What is it about silence that makes us so uncomfortable, anyway? Is it because in silence, we have no other choice except to confront ourselves? Or is it because in silence, everything else you want to ignore becomes more pronounced?

When it comes to friends, I think one of the marks of a strong friendship is when you can be silent with one another and not have to feel like you have to fill the silence. You are as comfortable with the silence as you are with the conversation. The person's presence is enough to assure you. 

Bearing the silence is a challenge in itself already. When we don't hear from the people we love, we worry. When we feel like God is silent, we worry. When a place is silent, we worry. When silence abounds, we worry. We would rather deal with the noise, the frantic sounds of a world in a hurry than to deal with the silence.

I have learned over the years that silence is not always a bad thing. You learn a lot that you just won't learn when you keep trying to fill in the silence with noise. You learn more about people by staying quiet and listening. You learn more by sitting quietly at God's feet than. 

Sometimes silence is deafening, too. But that is another story already. 

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