…friends of silence…

Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.

– Josh Billings

There was a breakfast this morning for, and honoring, veterans. The entire program was well done, without being over or under done, kudos to the organizers and brains behind it. I ran sound for the shindig so I was able to watch the entire thing from the control room.

As it always is, the playing of TAPS by a single trumpet was a powerful thing. The melody is so recognizable at this point that I know what it is almost immediately. There’s an ominous feeling knowing that this song is meant to call to mind every slain soldier our country has produced, but oddly this feeling is not uncomfortable as it leans toward the side of honor not morbidity. War is a hellish thing that, unfortunately, is a reality of the world we now live in. I’d read this quote and I stand in full agreement with the author:

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, Mother, what was war?

– Eve Merriam

That kind of world is not going to be based on the presence or absence of guns, borders, or money. That kind of world, which we all long for (veterans likely more than any of us) will only be fully realized when Christ comes to rule this earth Himself. Until then we will continue to hear the haunting echo of a trumpet offering another brave soul a moment to be remembered.

It was during this song, and in the subsequent moments, that the room was silent. There was no call for a moment of silence, it wasn’t on the agenda, but it grew organically out of the somber mood of the occasion. And in that moment of silence I found myself smitten with the beauty of the hush. In my mind it could have easily gone on for much longer, minutes or even hours. I say this because in that moment there was not only honor but there was clarity. A crystal-like quality settled in that place, and while words were good and needed and necessary to properly recognize the sacrifices our soldiers had made, in the noiselessness there was a mental calm and a clearing of the cacophonic cobwebs that tend to obscure any kind of long-range vision into the depths of our lives. In short, in the silence, I could hear myself think.

Being a “word” oriented person, I like to hear and read what people have to say. If I want to think deeply about something, I prefer words to images. Words capture my mind, the turn of a phrase can seat itself in my soul and take up residence there for long periods of time, which does mean that I have to scrutinize my sources to a certain degree. But with that being the truth, there is something about silence that always shakes me to my foundations. It always brings clarity in a way that is surprising and nuanced.

Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.

– Francis Bacon

I wonder sometimes if there shouldn’t be, for us all, a built-in moment of silence. I think we must ask ourselves not just “when am I quiet?”, but, “when do I let my world get quiet?” We can stop talking and there still be a rush of noise all around us. Entertainment, whether under the auspices of news, play, politics, culture, or fad, roars at us constantly. Like children abandoned in a cave behind a waterfall we find ourselves almost at the mercy of this auditory assault.

This battle, as Bacon said above, is not for information but for wisdom. Wisdom only comes in the wake of acquisition in the place where our soul’s sifter has the opportunity to play the part of a 49’er and discard what isn’t necessary and keep under close watch that which is truly treasure. As a Christian I believe this happens because in the silence we begin to hear God. The Spirit of God speaks to us perpetually, we tend to listen intermittently.

It would be wise of us to declare, each day, a moment of silence. A time when we can say goodbye to those unnecessary things that we’ve picked up (some of that might require repentance) and begin to properly cherish the valuable things. I fear that there will be more things we declare moratorium on than things we choose to retain in those moments.

Teresa of Calcutta, who seemed to have a gift for appropriate silence, said this:

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…We need silence to be able to touch souls.

– Mother Teresa

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