Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak
When the singing bowl rang, I felt conflicted. I was gathered in a circle with just over 20 men. We had spent the last 48 hours together on a silent retreat. The first night we shared a meal, told stories, sang a little, and reflected on the scriptures. After that, the agenda was simple; be silent.
In the morning there were a few awkward moments as we all attempted to navigate old routines made new by silence. The lodge hummed with activity as each of us charted our course for the day. As the day unfolded the silence became natural and comforting. You hear so much more in the world and in yourself when you’re quiet for a sustained amount of time. There is a peace that comes when you don’t need to say the perfect thing, or have the witty retort, or ask the right question to keep the conversation going. We bonded not through our words but through the shared unspoken experience.
There were times when it felt difficult to not speak but by the end the silence was effortless.
The scripture tells us that it is from silence that the world is created. God’s word comes from the silence and creates untold universes. It has been said that, “Deep silence is the mother of creativity. No creativity can come out of one who is too busy, worried, over-ambitious or lethargic.” For centuries Christians have known the value of silence. The ancient theologian, Diadochos of Photiki, who influenced many famed Christian thinkers said, “Timely silence, then, is precious, for it is nothing less than the mother of the wisest thoughts.”
I realize now that experiencing a weekend silent retreat was a luxury. It is not something possible or even easy to replicate for many. But we can all build a little silence into our day. Think of it as an act of worship. See those few precious moments of silence as a way of reaching back through history to the beginning of the universe when God dwelled in silence. Shun the phone. Sit in silence and listen for what wisdom wells up within you.