Back when I was a regular worship leader, I would lead prayers once or twice during the worship service. At one point in time, I became aware that our prayer time was filled with a lot of words...one person speaking for the whole group to God. It dawned on me that we were filling up our worship service with a lot of words and music but we rarely filled the space with silence.
So I tried it. I didn't say anything in a prayer for a minute. An uncomfortable minute for some as they shifted in their seats with some anxiousness, a beautiful minute for others. Anytime I was in the place of praying during the worship service, I made a point to include silence...a time to process, a time to listen, a time just to breathe.
Today I was reading the latest headlines and I came across a headline that said "So and so, speaks out on so and so." I didn't watch the video or read the transcript of what was said but my initial reaction to the headline was "I wish they would just keep silent." I get that the media is always pushing for words but sometimes, sometimes silence really is best.
We jump in and fill spaces with words that may have been better left unspoken. We say things that then require apologies that we may not mean. We jump to conclusions and spout facts that are made up or speak before we know the whole story. It's the way of the world but sometimes, sometimes we really should just be silent, to let our hearts and minds catch up with each other...so that our words really do reflect what we are feeling and thinking. Silence is a good thing.
My first trip to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, the silence was deafening. There weren't any birds chirping, nor was there the sound of cars driving by or radios playing. During the day the sounds of construction work rang through but in the late afternoon and evening silence reigned...well, except for the teenagers in my group. A few trips and a couple of years later the birds had returned, the cars had returned, the people had returned and busyness filled the air.
There were still times of silence. The year that we scraped (by hand) the outside of the pretty house I spent a lot of time listening to the stillness of the air. Being a quiet person by design, it was beautiful and refreshing to be perched on a ladder up near the rafters of an old house scraping paint surrounded by silence, while my team mates scraped the other sides of the house. I enjoyed the moments back on the ground, laughing with the team but in those quiet moments on a ladder, I found peace. I had time to process, to listen, to examine my own heart and mind...and be annoyed with the bird with the very irritating call that kept breaking the silence!
I think my heart, my soul is longing for that silence again. I find myself longing to be places where I have found peace and rest in the silence...the lanai in Maui, the rocks at Zephyr Point, on a ladder scraping paint at the pretty house, in my car with the top down driving to nowhere, on a bench in D-land. More than the silence, I'm longing for the peace that comes along after the silence.
I'm longing for that for myself, but also for this world, so used to noise that silence makes us shift uncomfortably in our seats, making so us jumpy we make up stories that aren't really true to fill the silence...and the news cycle continues.