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Silence and a Quiet Faith – A Reflection

June 20, 2020
An unusual cloud formation over Hermit Park Open Space.

Are you afraid of silence dear reader? Are you worried about what silence might reveal within you? I know that this was my response for far too many years. Silence was uncomfortable for me, especially whenever I would go through a particularly troubling dark night of the soul. It has taken time for me to get comfortable with silence. It is even more challenging with my hearing loss and tinnitus (thanks to my USAF experiences).

The first time I felt comfortable with the silence was during a silent retreat I went on as a part of the Certificate in Christian Spiritual Formation program at Columbia Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. The next time was at an Ignatian Silent Retreat at Springhill College in Mobile, AL. In the silence I was able to be still and contemplate. In the silence I was able to listen for the gentle whisper of the Spirit as she spoke to me.

Despite our societal uncomfortableness with silence, spending time in silence can truly be beneficial. The key for me was to allow myself to embrace the silence. When voices of doubt or shame enter in, I was invited to let those thoughts go through my mind’s eye and exit. I wasn’t supposed to dwell on them. Spirit invites me to let them go and not to hang onto them. In those moments I was embraced in the loving presence of God.

Thomas Merton had something to say about silence and waiting on the Lord. True hope is tested by silence in which we have to wait on the Lord in the obedience of unquestioning faith. Isaiah records the word of Yahweh to his rebellious people, who were always abandoning him in order to enter into worthless political and military alliances. “Your safety lies in ceasing to make leagues, your strength is in quiet faith” (Isaiah 20:15)… (Love and Living, p. 42)

Dear reader, may we find our hope and our safety in quiet faith. However, may we listen to the Spirit’s urging and speak boldly from that silence against the horrors of this world. We must speak from a position of strength. We must speak not from our strength but from the strength which the Spirit gives us. She is, after all, faithful and true. She will accompany us on this journey of life and witness.

One Comment
  1. Well said, Michael. Silence does take a bit of getting used to. I still struggle with it when my mind gets too noisy to quiten inwardly and listen well. Having tinnitus and some hearing loss problems is a challenge for me too. But perseverance helps us overcome such difficulties, and then we begin to reap the benefits and blessings silence brings to us. 💜

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