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Let my last post of 2016 be an invitation to quiet. In response to a film by the above noted title, Lara Williams with The Guardian wrote:

Once the preserve of monastic retreats and hardcore meditators, simply being quiet is growing in appeal. Whole businesses have sprung up to meet a rising demand for quiet time, from silent weekend getaways to silent dining, silent reading parties and even silent dating… The release of documentary In Pursuit of Silence, a “meditative film” about our relationship with noise, promoted with a delicate two-minute trailer in which not a word is uttered.

Silence can, as the film attests, mean different things to different people. It can be a space for quiet reflection or a state fraught with discomfort. There is a certain intimacy inherent in being silent with other people – we usually do so only with those closest to us. So there is something almost radical about the recent trend for enjoying silence with strangers.

What does silence mean in a noisy world?

Many years ago, C.S.Lewis wrote a humorous book called “The Screwtape Letters” – supposedly the captured letters from an older mentor devil, Screwtape, to a hapless junior devil, Wormwood. Lewis’ wit reveals what he calls the hellish “Kingdom of Noise“:

Keep in mind that silence, solitude, and reflection is a breeding ground for all manner of destructive outcomes. Rest gives them refreshed bodies and clear minds. Clarity draws them to that which we most hate: truth. In such moments their vision grows strong and their purpose is rekindled. I warn you: for Hell’s sake, do not let this happen!

Thus it caught my attention when Lara Williams wrote:

Matthew Adams, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Brighton says,

“Collective silence is about connecting with others in a way that gets underneath social conventions. It confronts us with what it feels like to be in the physical presence of other human beings without any games, strategies, reading or misreading of intentions. It is a temporary suspension of our reliance on talk.”

The absence of chatter can have social advantages. London’s silent speed-dating event organisers Shhh! say that we are “instinctively better at communicating and choosing the right partners when we have the chance to put aside words and see each other as we really are.

Time and Timelessness

In an earlier post I encouraged us to:

“… re-aquaint ourselves with the natural and necessary desire to imagine, to reflect, and to be creative. I was fortunate enough in my childhood I suppose, to have long stretches of unencumbered time to explore, hike, play, and get lost in thought and geography. Thus when I began my own spiritual journey with Jesus, all this lent itself to what Christians call “quiet times”, “devotional times”, or little “sabbaths” in order to be alone with God, to listen to Him, to journal, and to pray.

Take a moment to get in touch with the timeless One who made you for Himself. Make a little quiet time and listen.

Toward a Happy New Year!

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