Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:11
When I was a young boy, we lived across the road from my grandparents. We simply ran back and forth all day, as if we had a home and a branch office across the road. One of the things I remember clearly is going in the front door of their house after dark, knowing they would be sitting side-by-side in the dark in their rocking chairs.
They sat down in their rocking chairs after supper and, even though the sun had gone down and it had gotten dark, they didn’t bother to turn on a lamp. They just sat there in silence, rocking. I always knew where my grandfather was sitting because I could see the red dot of his unfiltered Camel cigarette glowing in the dark. It never crossed my mind whether they thought my arrival was a nuisance or a relief from the solitude. I guess I thought I was doing them a favor barging in uninvited.
I read somewhere that couples who can enjoy their time together in silence will always stay together, but a child cannot imagine anyone actually enjoying silence.
For many people, silence can be downright scary. There is a term for it — sedatephobia. This “fear of silence” was relatively unheard of 50 years ago, but today psychotherapists are seeing large numbers of individuals who suffer from this disorder and they believe the numbers will continue to rise in the coming decades.
Many experts believe that technology has given rise to the constant need for sound, therefore producing a greater number of people suffering from sedatephobia. For many more people, not just the young anymore, it is impossible to sit in a quiet room for even a few minutes without their phones, music, TV or the noise of traffic around them.
I have suspected for a long time now that there is, as well, a connection between the noise level of the world and the loss of our sense of the divine. Simply put, it seems to me that the world is so noisy today that even God can’t get a word in edgewise.
There is a beautiful moment in the Bible when the prophet Elijah feels God’s presence. The Scriptures say that a powerful wind tore the mountains apart, but God was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. It was the whisper of God. God doesn’t yell, he whispers. Maybe that is why we can’t hear him too well these days.
Silence, today, is looked on as odd, when in reality it may be dangerous to do without it. Susan L. Taylor, an American writer and journalists said, “We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly — spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.”
Father J. Ronald Knott