Silence. It is not something I deal well with. I’m a filler, an out-loud processor, someone who likes the television on while I cook dinner and only turns the music off in the car if my phone rings. I’ve always preferred conversation to quiet, crowded beaches to places of solitude. The introverted pieces of my heart work themselves out with time alone, but not time in silence; like reading in coffee shops, or people watching at airports.
And then… these words from a wise man: “Only speak if you can improve the silence.” Profound, really.
The trouble for me is that I have never thought of silence as a good starting place. (Unless there are sleeping children, as any mama knows there are few things more glorious than a perfectly quiet house in the middle of the afternoon). I am not someone who naturally appreciates the absence of conversation. In fact, most often I seek out conversation rather than sit alone with my thoughts. But that’s just the thing; maybe people like me really do need a little more quiet.
Because it is when I am finally quiet that I realize how much the world is already screaming at us, “Be this!” “Buy that!” or “Look like her!” It is when I’m quiet that I can hear the passions of my heart speak out rather than have popular culture or well-intentioned advice from others tell me what they should be. It is when I’m finally quiet, still, that I notice how much my soul really needs it.
Since hearing those words, I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the beautiful things that silence really is for us. It is space for the Holy Spirit to speak, time for the rhythm of our lives to find its best pace, intentionality to listen to someone else without thinking of our next words, and it is rest, beautiful, peaceful, rest. If we all thought of our words as something that could improve the silence, I wonder how much less we might actually say and how much more we would hear. And while words are beautiful and encouraging and absolutely life giving, sometimes, so is the silence. As much as I love life’s soundtrack of good conversations, laughing children, beautiful music, dinner cooking and footsteps all around our house, I also love the peace of hearing nothing. Because sometimes, that is when I hear the most important things.