The Gift of Silence

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:

Work – whether outside or inside the home

Raising children

Paying taxes

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.

Silence has a way of making us slow down. Sometimes, it makes us take personal inventory of what we’re about and what/whom we need in our lives. I can only imagine the utter pin-drop silence of the days before the first Easter, from Friday till Sunday. The silent, bitter, grief-filled tears which must’ve coursed down many of Jesus’ friends’ faces guts me when I consider their loss. Such misery! Surely, even if one hadn’t heard of Jesus, that dark silence (not to mention earthquake) must’ve grabbed the attention of everyone. The celebration was coming, but nobody knew this. I mean, had they really listened in, they might have had an inkling, but hearing about resurrection is a freaky thing (I would guess), and so far outside of the line of most people’s thinking, that even if they were listening well to Jesus, the full truth was hidden until they were ready to hear and see.

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.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

 

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Gretchen Hanna
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Gretchen Hanna

Gretchen has blogged for the last nine years, usually tying her faith to her reality, and has guest posted or written for Believe.com, JeanPSullivan.com and other blogs. It’s her honor to be among the writers on Grace & Such, and she is currently not only found here and at Jewels In My Crown Someday, but is also holding hands open for other writing (blogging and otherwise) and speaking opportunities as she waits upon God’s unfolding plans for her.
Gretchen Hanna
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14 thoughts on “The Gift of Silence

  1. Amber

    So lovely. Learning to seek silence is such a good and difficult lesson. Appreciate the reminder

    Reply

    1. Gretchen

      Thank you, Amber. Yes to all you said.

      Reply

  2. Bev Gibson

    My nature is to be a talkative ambivert, but the older I get the more my soul craves quiet, times of stillness and aloneness. I find when I’ve been surrounded with people, or busyness, I have to have that space of quiet and being alone to regather the edges of my life. Our society has grown to elevate busyness, to be worn as a badge of honor as you said. I love that saying that’s so popular right now, “Let’s Stay Home”. Now for us to all just do it!

    Reply

    1. Jen

      We could be the very same person, Bev.

      Reply

    2. Gretchen

      I agree, Jen. Bev and I could be the same person. Thanks Miss Bev, for visiting. Xo

      Reply

    3. Diane Tarantini

      You had me at talkative, ambivert, Bev. And then again at caving quiet, stillness, and aloneness. What a contrast, but I totally get it!

      Reply

  3. Jen

    There is something kind of “ahhh” about being an empty nester. Making periods of silence much more frequent and easy to attain. As long as we don’t end up filling up all that new-found space. Still trying to figure it all out.

    Thanks for this, Gretchen. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Gretchen

      I suspect we’ll be figuring this out for a long time. But the figuring is a good place to meet God.

      Reply

  4. Rebecca Preston

    I just took a silent retreat this weekend. I returned refreshed and positive, which being a glass half -empty person is quite a feat. And I’ve realized the benefits from silence for many years and yet…”Also, in our culture, silence and stillness are not celebrated; in fact, it’s usually called: lazy.”…still hurts. I pretty much think I really belong in a medieval monastery…

    Reply

    1. Gretchen

      I think I need to take a silent retreat someday, Becky. Going to have a couple of days of down time this week (stowaway on Doug’s biz trip), so will be seeking silence.

      Reply

  5. Diane Karchner

    The sound of silence always soothes me somehow. But before I learned to use it to listen for God, it just felt like idleness to me. I was one who thought it lazy (so sorry Beck!) Silence never threatened me, or scared me, my need for it just always puzzled me. I know that sounds really weird to those who know me cause I am seldom very silent, for very long. But I do so love it. Now, once in awhile, when I intentionally intend, I really do find God sitting there with me. Ahhhhh, a cool drink of water, it is.

    Reply

    1. Gretchen

      Yes! Always so refreshing!

      Reply

  6. Diane Tarantini

    I, too, have really been getting into stillness and quiet lately. And rest. I heard a message on Sabbath a few months back and I have (finally) began to practice it. Not 24 hours though. My babystep has been to commit to three hours of Sabbath on Sunday. To date it has been on my bed, with a book, interrupted by a nap and it has been divine. A gift. Because for me, Sunday was pretty much like any other day. Zoom zoom zoom. Or it was a catch-up day.
    And also, this line? “Cooking – I separate this one out because…wow…what a time suck back then!”: It cracked me up!!!

    Reply

  7. Gretchen Hanna

    Thanks for stopping by, Diane. I need to focus on Sabbath rest, too. Not just the nap part, but the surrender part. Also, glad I made you laugh.

    Reply

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