June 29, 2010 // Uncategorized

The secret of silence

Do you want to reduce the amount of times you lose your temper with your kids? Do you want to create more satisfying, relaxed and lighthearted conversations with your spouse? Do you want to be able to hear and thus follow God’s personal direction for your life? Do you want to be happier, more peaceful? Then quarantine yourself from the world for a little bit each day and rediscover the value of silence.

Silence helps us regroup. Rethink. Reconsider. Take a mini-vacation, if only in our own minds. It helps us to practice patience and think before we speak. It helps us keep our focus and better handle the daily drip, drip, drip of challenges and hectic thoughts that are inevitable in modern living.

Often, in our busy lives of working, raising children, striving to be good wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers and friends, we find ourselves simply moving from one task to the next. We are very good at “doing” but maybe not so good at just “being,” and this shows up in our relationships with others. We’re short. Curt. Frazzled. We don’t mean to be, but it’s the modus operandi and result of busyness and a hurried, harried life. We can’t help the over-stimulation that assaults our senses, but we can determine that we can still have peace. Silence every day is the answer.

God rarely speaks to people audibly like He did to Moses, but He speaks all the time to every one of us, quietly, gently. We have to have silence to hear Him. An amazing amount of creative ideas flow through our minds daily, but we have to have silence to notice those ideas or they are just like buzzing insects swarming around our brains. There is an array of astounding beauty in the simple world of our own neighborhood, our own family, our own home, but we need silence to see it.

Silence calms the soul. It is the blank page we need ultimately not just for peace but to create great works of art, and song and beautiful daily living.

Silence allows the mind to empty, to release troubles and concerns and discover solutions to problems. If it is important to fill our minds with good and holy thoughts and ideas — and it is — it is equally important to have room for them. Room is created by silence.

Children need this silence too, although they may not know it. It’s important to show them the calming fruitfulness of silence so they will make it part of their daily life as they grow up and leave our care.

I have learned many things from my mother, but one especially important gem is to provide quiet in the middle of the day for everyone. Babies nap during the day. Toddlers might too. But in our house, the period after lunch was and is a time for “quiet.” Toddlers through teens can nap, or read, or draw, or simply sit quietly and think. Everyone comes from this more relaxed and refreshed. I will also tell you too, lest you think our home is always the pinnacle of monastery-like tranquility, that there are some hectic days when loudness looms and a flurry of conversations and activities threaten my mood and peace, and I run to the nearest bathroom, yes bathroom, to grab the only silence I can find. We often have to seek silence because it will generally not impose itself on us.

While silence is something we usually must seek, sometimes it is forced upon us. This past week a storm ravaged through South Bend. It left many in the area, including us, without electricity or water for four days. The lack of water required us to haul in water from outside sources for each flush of the toilet and hand washing. This was challenging. However, a neat thing happened with this experience too. Additional peace presented itself.

One evening my husband set up a lantern on the back patio, along with a few citronella candles, and while our daughter read nearby, my husband and I conversed softly amidst the backdrop of … nothing. It was quite renewing.

If you carve time out for silence every day, I’m not saying you will never lose your temper again, or that you will immediately know God’s will for your life. However, I do guarantee that when you commit to finding some quiet every day, your life will improve, because silence is the beginning of finding peace, finding purpose and ultimately finding God.

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