Another Type Of Silence

Like a treasured diamond or gold ring, silence has been discarded and lost.

Sound surrounds.

Sound invades.

Sound blinds.

Sound silences.

This sound has become noise.

Another silence embraces, envelopes, and invigorates.

Thus, silence needs to be understood in a larger way than simply a lack of audible noise.

I love to write in the early morning — when all is quiet and dark.

My focus sharpens when no sound or light interrupt or invade.

This silence awakens in me the unspeakable, the eternal, the timeless, and the profound.

The unspeakable becomes words.

The eternal emerges into the NOW.

The timeless punctuates the present.

I find myself in sacred silence — where and when I listen, see, hear, and feel the Divine and Sublime become mine.

Whenever emptiness—what seems like empty space or absence of sound—becomes its own kind of fullness with its own kind of sweet voice, we have just experienced sacred silence.

When we see silence as the ground of all words and the birth of all words, then when we speak, our words will be calmer and well-chosen.

When we recognize something as beautiful, that knowledge partly emerges from the silence around it.

This is why we are quiet in art galleries and symphony halls.

Sadly, this was previously true of libraries where the most prominent sound uttered was the “shssh” of the librarian.

If something is not surrounded by the vastness of silence and space, it is hard to appreciate it as singular and beautiful.

If it is all mixed in with everything else, then its particularity does not stand out.

As one author I read years ago said, silence is the net below the tightrope walker. [1]

Silence is that safety net that allows us to fall; it admits, as poets often do, that no words or deeds will ever be perfectly right or sufficient.

The great spaciousness and safety net beneath a tightrope walker is silence; it offers freedom from self-preoccupation and the fear of making a mistake.

[1] Max Picard, The World of Silence, trans. Stanley Godman (H. Regnery: 1964, ©1952), 22.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation (Franciscan Media: 2014), 7-9.

Portions of this come from an email by Richard Rohr on 01/09/2019.

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