Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
As a child, I liked to go off by myself to “hear myself think,” as my mother called it. About the only place to escape back then was in the woods or some other secluded spot. These days, it is my condo. I enjoy long days and nights, when I can get in, “holed up,” writing. I especially like the very late hours of night.
I must get some of it from my grandparents on my father’s side. When I was a child, they lived across the road from us. We had free rein over both houses. We could walk in, day or night, whenever we felt like it. After supper, they would take their places in their rocking chairs in the living room and sit there in almost total silence until after dark, without even turning on the lights.
When I would enter the door, the only sign that they were still sitting there was the glow of my grandfather’s Camel cigarette. I suppose they did speak to each other occasionally, but their house at that hour of the night had the feeling of a Trappist monastery.
I love being with people, but I need time to recover. Some would call people like me “introverts,” while others might call us “grumpy old men.” Whatever!
Because I love silence, I was intrigued by Pope Benedict XVI’s recent letter for the 46th World Day of Communications. He spoke eloquently about the role of silence in communicating with others. Let me share with you some of my favorite parts.
“Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. In our time, the Internet is becoming ever more the forum for questions and answers — indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware.”
“If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive,” he said. “Amid the complexity and diversity of the world of communication, many people find themselves confronted with the ultimate questions of human existence.”
Silence “is often more eloquent than a hasty answer and permits seekers to reach into the depths of their being and open themselves to the path toward knowledge that God has inscribed in human hearts,” he said.
“Silent contemplation immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbors so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ,” he said. “Learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak.”
Discover the advantages of being quiet!
Father J. Ronald Knott