SILENCE IS GOLDEN. AND UPLIFTING.
A wise man once said nothing. Proverb
True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body: nourishment and refreshment. William Penn
About 30 years ago, I rode along with Blair, a close friend whose work and church service required him to take frequent trips of two or three hours. I was surprised to discover that he had no radio or cassette player in his small pickup truck. I asked him how that happened, since I thought radios were standard equipment in every vehicle.
"I custom-ordered the truck with no radio," he answered. "It actually cost me money to have the radio removed."
"But why did you do that?" I asked.
"Because I didn't want to tempt myself to give up my quiet time," he explained. "I was afraid if I had a radio in my truck, I might turn it on during my long drives, which would ruin the best part of my day."
That led into an extended discussion on the mental and spiritual benefits of silence.
Blair taught religion classes to high school and college students, and he was also a church leader in our area. Blair worried that his students and his parishioners were so addicted to constant chatter, music, and other forms of noise that they were unable to follow the counsel in Psalms 46: 10 to "Be still, and know that I am God."
He shared what Mother Theresa said about coming to know God during periods of quiet.
"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."
Blair wanted others to find peace in their hearts and lives. He understood what Khaled Hosseini meant when he wrote: "Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it."
Blair was disappointed that so many he taught and led seemed unable to develop a pattern of daily meditation and quietude. I asked him why he thought so few people were able to do something as simple as sitting quietly for a few minutes.
"It can be a bit scary." he said. "Although not true for all, I think many people are afraid of what they'll find in the silence." His answer was similar to the words of contemporary author Jefferson Bethke:
"We refuse to turn off our computers, turn off our phones, log off Facebook, and just sit in silence, because in those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are."
Over the years, I've been very grateful for Blair's instruction on the benefits of silence. Quiet solitude has served me well, allowing me to come to terms with the spiritual meaning of life and to think through my day-to-day challenges, both personal and professional. I've found it to be uplifting and reassuring.
I'm a big believer in the value of quiet time, of finding a time and place for silence. On this topic, I'm on the same page as Deepak Chopra, who wrote:
"Silence is the great teacher. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence."
We need to not be afraid to turn off the world for a few minutes every day. Our minds and souls will thank us for it.
NOTE: In my next Wednesday Wisdom, I'll focus on some amazing health benefits that silence offers us.