One perfect Word, and a world full of noise; one perfect proof of love, yet millions of lonely-hearted souls; one perfect God, and a bewildering number of imposters adored —this is the world in which we live, sorely in need of silence, love, and truth.
The chatter never ceases, in spite of the eternally perfect speech. Everyone has something to say — some in words, some in music, some in writing. Voices and music blast from iPods and headphones, from stereos and CD players. Speakers in stores and gas stations and shopping malls fill every available second with auditory stimuli. Television, via cable and satellite, brings a mind-boggling supply of noise, too — music and unmusic, art and unart, edifying and damning digital entertainment, provided in every imaginable form all day and all night. Some of these things are not fit to wake the dead, let alone entertain the living.
What is this continuous supply of noise? What is this apparent entity? Who is in control of such a universally-scaled assault upon our silence? By whose consent did we slip into such a noisy existence? What purpose does it serve? Are men more intelligent, more informed, more well-versed? Or are we simply starved for silence, hungrily snapping up any input regardless of whether it’s the input we need most? Do the hearts of men reflect a steady calm and peace amidst the turmoil of the ever-changing world? Or do they reverberate the crazy syncopation of vain pursuits, constant busyness, and perpetual unhappiness?
Ways in which we communicate are vast and widely described and defined: conversations, monologues, diatribes, lectures, infomercials, exposes, discussions, arguments, fights, quarrels, quibbles, squabbles, gossip, slander, calumny, cries, commands; beggings, betrayals, pleas, orders, instructions, memos, writings, printings, emails, texts, phone calls, CB radios, short-wave radios, telegraphs, Braille — the list goes on and on.
The bottom line is, we give great importance to what men are saying, how they are saying it, and to whom they are saying it. It’s of equal importance, then, that we listen to what is said, how it is said, keeping in mind to whom it is said. In order to listen, we must begin with a rare and valuable asset: silence.
More often than not, obtaining this silence proves nearly impossible on the exterior plane, for all the causes listed above. There comes with discipline, however, a beautiful habit of interior silence which enables us to listen at will despite exterior noise. This silence paves smooth the way of prayer, which draws one ever closer to God.
There is only one purpose for which we were created, one perfect love that has been spoken into our hearts, one Word which feeds and fulfills and saves us from ourselves. Life, love, and the truest liberty — eternal happiness forever in heaven with the God Who created us — these are the real things, the true things, found through silence and through prayer.
Unless we embrace silence as completely necessary, and use that time to listen to the most perfect Word, we shall forever greet His tender callings as annoyances. It will seem annoying to have our continuous state of noise bombardment interrupted by something as “troublesome” and “unproductive” as listening — especially when we are so accustomed to listening for exterior noise that we have forgotten how to hear the quiet voice within our hearts.
I urge all readers to seriously consider the habit of noise in daily life, and imagine what goods silence can bring both materially and spiritually. Remember that we were created to know God, love God, and serve God, so that we may be happy with Him forever in heaven. If you do not know Him now, will you know Him at the moment of your death? If you cannot hear His voice in your heart now, will you hear Him call you at life’s end? If you cannot be joyful at His gentle calling now, will you be happy to see Him when your days are done?
These rhetorical questions are intended to encourage you towards greater silence with the beginning of Lent. May you discover — or remember — how great a treasure is the virtue of silence.