You know, when I think about silence, and in particular, God’s silence in regards to the three days between Jesus’ death and resurrection, I’m reminded that although 2,000 years later, we’re largely no different than in His day.
People were busy. Maybe not busy communicating or working via the internet or busy fighting automobile traffic, but busy in their day to day lives. I wasn’t there, but I imagine they were busy with some of these things:
Attending social and religious events; hanging out with friends
Trying to make a life for themselves or a better life for themselves
Caring for the elderly and infirm
Cooking – I separate this one out because…wow…what a time suck back then!
Today, I feel like we’re still just as busy, oftentimes in quite similar ways to those of long ago. Too busy just getting things done, not looking up or around for anyone’s plans or pleasures but our own.
Can we be too busy for God? I think so. And I think, back in Jesus’ time, this was the case, as well. Of course, I don’t know. I’m conjecturing. But any amount of studying our human nature shows a fair bit of consistency, I think.
We are busy, not necessarily with worshiping and loving God, but with going our own way, seeking him only when He seems silent or far away—like when we’re waiting on the results of a medical test, or when someone close to us passes away, or when the unfairest of the unfair happens to us. I think this imposed silence has given its usefulness a bad rap. Also, in our culture, silence and stillness are not celebrated; in fact, it’s usually called: lazy. Our busyness has become the norm, leaving little time for silence and its offering of peaceful clarity. I think often we fear silence because it might lead us away from the comfort zone of constant movement.
I am learning not to fear silence, but to seek it. No, it’s not particularly fun to be in that silent waiting room while a loved one may be fighting for his/her life at the hospital. No, it’s not the time of one’s life waiting in silence for a parent/teacher/boss to mete out judgment when one’s done something wrong. Long, awkward pauses in conversation are, well, long and awkward. But here’s the thing: these bits of silence, whether imposed upon us, or whether they’ve been carved out by us, hold space—just like a rest in a piece of music holds space and gives the music its shape and flavor. The space of silence carries its own story. As I get older and learn to embrace the quiet, I appreciate it for what it is. A time of rumination and reflection. A time for prayer, confession, repentance, and gratitude, perhaps. A time to realign with the Holy Spirit.
Then I can celebrate.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.