“Silence is the way to make solitude a reality. The Desert Fathers praise silence as the safest way to God. ‘I have often repented of having spoken,’ Arsenius said, ‘but never of having remained silent.’ One day Archbishop Theophilus came to the desert to visit Abba Pambo. But Abba Pambo did not speak to him. When the brethren finally said to Pamo, ‘Father, say something to the archbishop, so that he may be edified,’ he replied: ‘If he is not edified by my slience, he will not be edified by my speech.'” From The Way of the Heart by Henri J.M. Nouwen
As I have occasionally pointed out, I am an ESFP with ADD. I think out loud. I come from a loud family. I raised a loud family. My grandchildren, especially the red-haired-wonder-child (RHWC). My dogs are very loud. They bark at everyone that walks by (and a lot do) and all the squirrels that tease them from the trees (I would hate to see what happened if one of them fell into the dog pen). I worked in a factory where it was constant noise.
Oddly, over the past four years I have found great peace in the silence I find in my day job. No tv. No radio. The only sound is my occasional chime to remind me to play a game of Words with Friends. The little lady I stay with turns her hearing aids off so there’s not even much conversation when she ventures out of her room. And I’m really quite okay with that.
The RHWC is a boy–all boy. Long ago, hub and I decided that boys just have to make noise: sounds just have to come from little boys. Noise for noise sake. It reminds me of how Jesus described the way that the pagans just babble on when they pray. I don’t find any need to talk to hear myself talk–I just think out loud when I’m in conversation. Somewhere along the line I lost my need to talk.
The nice thing about that is that it makes lots of room to listen. To hear what others are saying…or not. To hear what God is saying…or not. I wonder how noisy it was in the stable…perhaps that why Mary sat quietly and pondered all these things in her heart.
Writing this just sent me to the bookshelf…I pulled out my copy of Oats “Nurturing Silence in A Noisy Heart.” More to come…