Wednesday Word: Silence
Silence is golden – ancient proverb
This old proverb was on my mind most of last week as I struggled with a bout of laryngitis. But as I struggled to talk, as I entered into a period of self-imposed silence, and as I looked for creative ways to communicate, I began to wonder if this old proverb was correct . . . was silence golden?
For those who know me well, you know that I tend to lean toward the introvert side of the scale. My motto for conversations could very well be, “Why use ten words when one will do?” And silence is less often awkward than it is a respite from trying to think of things to say.
But even I was having difficulty with the loss of my voice and the inability to speak. It seemed that during this time silence wasn't golden as much as it seemed to be a millstone around my neck.
What was it that made silence golden as opposed to annoying?
When the work crew that has been jack-hammering and digging and hauling outside your window all day suddenly stops, the overwhelming silence that follows is golden. When the neighbor's dog finally stops barking, silence is golden. When you walk into a quiet house after a long commute, silence is golden. When you sit with a good friend or your beloved without saying a word but are happy to be in their presence, silence is golden. When you spend time with God in quiet prayer, silence is golden. When you have the wherewithal to not respond in kind to verbal attacks, silence is golden.
But silence is not golden for the child placed in a timeout. Silence is not golden for people who have been shunned by their community. Silence is not golden for the person who is not allowed to voice personal concerns. Silence is not golden for abuse victims who are forced to remain silent out of fear.
As with anything, I suppose, whether silence is golden or not all depends on the context.
With Advent a week and a half away, and with its focus on slowing down and waiting, spend some time looking for the silent places in your life – when do you have silence thrust upon you and when do you intentionally become silent?
And if you don't have enough times of silence in your life, work to carve out some silent time in an otherwise hectic and noisy world. Sit, pray, think, and notice what you may have been missing. Hopefully it will be in those times that you will indeed find that silence is golden.