The Art of the Silence

This morning, I got a slow start. I love when days begin this way: I wake when I need to, when I am done sleeping. The room is still a careful dawn blanket of dusky hues and the house is utterly quiet.

I take my time on these gift days and get started in the natural course. I meditate before the door wall, the morning clouds a streak of inspiration in the sky above. My coffee brews after 8. I complete the thank you notes for yesterday’s radio interview. I take my time.

Time is mine.

What a lovely concept. I bask in the silence.

In a recent Washington Post article about Pope Francis’ love of silence, the author Christopher Hale wrote: “Silence is the beginning remedy to this emerging dictatorship of superficiality…”

Indeed. The article (which is fantastic, read it, the link is in the paragraph above) emphasizes how we live in a world where everything is so fast and easy that nothing means anything. That’s a paraphrase in a big way, but it’s the gist of what he’s talking about.

The new pope apparently instructed a 30-second silence in St. Peter’s Square the other day. It’s a Jesuit thing and Jesuits have come to be my favorite Catholics because they are in the world, seeking to represent the silence that everyone seeks, where God can be found.

So the idea goes, when we can be silent, we can find reverence, we can find truth, we can find what is real.

And in a world gone loud – there is no silence unless we carefully, deliberately set aside the noise – that adds up to a whole lot of nothing.

The article mentions the easiness of friending – or unfriending – someone. And in neither case are these people truly “friends.”

When we do not have to look someone in the eye or see the pain wrinkled across their forehead by what we’ve said, we don’t have the paper trail of a conscience guiding us to shut up.

In my business, I tell people often that the world has become a lonely place as it has become more accessible. Sit behind a computer screen and you can reach anyone, anywhere – but you still sit alone.

So we are screaming – all caps, bold font, blog blog blog – for attention. Notice me, we say. Listen to me. Tell me I matter.

Our actions become increasingly frenetic, almost stunt-like. We try so hard to be noticed. And in the process, we forget what is real. We are guided by a false star.

The quiet, then, is essential.

Taking time out twice a day to meditate. Using weekend time to stroll through the woods with my children. Getting out of the car, stretching our legs. Turning off the phone. The computer. The iPad. The everything.

While it may be fidgety-uncomfortable in the silence, it is so important to get past that discomfort toward the light of being alone and not being lonely. Finding space in life for inspiration and beauty, that’s the wisdom of the silence.

Facing our thoughts head-on rather than running from them.

Being held accountable for everything we say and do.

The silence is a gift. It’s there in every single person’s life, waiting to be unwrapped, scrutinized and tried on for size.

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