Friday February 3rd 2023

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Silence, Please

Marti Maltby


I’ve recently been reminded of the value of silence, or at least having a break from all the noise that assaults us each day. With so much negativity in the air, it can be difficult not to get infected, not to become judgmental, not to lash out or over-react, not to get overwhelmed, and not to break down. Silence, having the space to think and regroup and nurture oneself, is an antidote to everything that comes at us.

I use the word “antidote” because the hostile attitudes that are becoming more common pass from person to person and infect each individual, causing damage that is sometimes irreversible. We don’t just need a break, we need something that can heal the infection and inoculate us against it in the future.

I rediscovered silence by accident. I was driving home from work and couldn’t find anything on the radio I liked, so I turned the noise off. When I arrived home and found I was calmer than I had been for several days, I wondered what had happened. When I didn’t listen to music the next day while riding my bike and found I enjoyed just looking at the passing scenery, I realized I was on to something. Recently, one of the volunteers at Peace House Community led our group discussion time by inviting us to silently listen to meditation music. I was thrown off at first, since speaking is the point of a discussion, but the silence brought something to the group that talking wouldn’t have.

Of course, I’m not the first to discover the power of silence. Religious and spiritual practices have valued it for centuries. School teachers use it every day in their classrooms. But when you are a “grown up” in the “real world”, you don’t have time for silence, you need to get things done. In our digital age, we need to stay informed, responding quickly to whatever pops into our email inbox or our social media feeds. Or so we are told, and so I believed.

The truth is that silence still has the power to refresh, to calm, and to center. It has never gone away, and it will always offer a sanctuary to us.

Silence is harder for many of us to attain than others. Living in a crowded house, moving around a metropolitan area, dealing with our electronic age – it all drowns out the silence. Carving out the time and space to experience silence, to take a break from everything that comes at us, isn’t easy. For many, it is a luxury they can scarcely afford, which is a tragedy because the cost of constant noise is in itself so high.

I pray that we all may find the silence we need to deal with this world around us.

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