Fleeing Noise for the God of Silence

Photograph by Timothy Wong

The world is a noisy, noisy place. It hates stillness and silence. It is saturated with words and acts that pour forth from restless souls and frenzied minds, and in that cacophony of noise, we lose our bearings and lose touch with our soul. Because our souls, as Parker Palmer once beautifully wrote, is like a wild animal – it will only reveal itself to us if we are silent and still and patient.

There are different levels of existing. At the most superficial level of existing, we are little more than a collection of stimuli and knee-jerk reactions. It does not matter if the stimuli is good or bad. It does not matter if the nature of those knee-jerk reactions seem to bring about good or evil. When we are existing at this level of reality, we find our emotions and peace of mind constantly hijacked by what is happening around or to us and we find ourselves running in circles asking “Why?” and “What to do?” without ever actually pausing to listen. Because even though we shake our fists or throw ourselves into changing these external circumstances, we continue to live from stimulus to stimulus, keeping busy on the surface while our souls shrink and waste away. When we are living on this level of existence, prayer and service, mission or apostolic actions skim the surface without real power for transformation. We are little more than the blind leading the blind, no matter how noble or useful we think we are. Egos are on parade, even when it might be in the name of justice or service.

I have been finding myself weighed down by living too much on this superficial level of reality. There have been too much external stimuli that I have unguardedly allowed to seep into me. Of late, I have increased the dosage of my exposure to what is happening all around me almost exponentially without similarly increasing my exposure to silence in contemplation. Contemplation is necessary to keep my vision and understanding of what is happening in the world anchored in the eternal spiritual reality which is anything but superficial. I have become more restless and reactive, and that restlessness has revealed to me my soul’s thirst to deep dive into the reality in which every passing event is touched by the light of Eternity.

And so although Lent is still three days away, I will begin my Lenten journey into the desert earlier this year because I know that there will be yet another huge explosion and storm that will be filling news sites and social media feeds and fuelling all kinds of discussion imminently. More than anything I know that to really, truly engage with the world in any meaningful way, I need to enter it through the discipline of contemplative silence – so that I might see not just with my eyes but with God’s eyes, and hear not with my own ears but Christ’s, and to speak and act not with my own power or light but His.

May this Lent see a deepening of silence in my soul so that I may better enter into the mystery of Christ’s life, passion, death and resurrection and be more rooted in the life I was baptised into. Please pray for me even as I hope to enter into deeper silence to better intercede for the world!

In God alone there is rest for MY Soul,
from him comes my safety;
He alone is my rock, my safety,
my stronghold so that I stand unshaken. 
- Ps 62:1-2

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