(Title of a song written by Simon and Garfunkel in 1964)
By Sister Therese Anne Kiefer, ASC
Since the beginning of humanity, silence has had a special language of its own. In the Garden of Eden, Genesis tells us that God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening. We do not know what that was like. Abraham knew the language of silence as he waited for his son to be born. Zachary spent many months in silence because he doubted his wife becoming pregnant, because of his age and that of Elizabeth. Jesus spent many nights in prayer. Mary’s YES was an invitation from God to “ponder in her heart” the way of God, who is a God of silence. Joseph probably spent many days and nights in silence pondering what God was asking of Mary and him. Jesus spent many nights in prayer without the scriptures and reflections from contemporary writers. He spent many nights in communion with his Father.
The early contemplatives, women and men in the desert, surrounded themselves with silence and walked with their God. In monasteries of today, they wear the cloak of silence in their 24 hours of living. To not speak nor fill their hours with conversation is only a road to the deeper silence within themselves, where there is a vibrant and creative energy that is the gift of pure grace granted in prayer. In the deeper river that flows in the center of our being, God finds us and we find God. Jesus told us that the ‘reign of God’ is within us.
God’s call to each of us today, especially in our community and world, is to enter the depths where God resides. Many decisions face us, personally, in community, country, and world. Only in silence and pondering will we hear that whispering of God, the silence of the Spirit who will inspire us to move in the direction of wisdom and action.
We can contemplate the silence in our earth and cosmos, given to us from the first moment of creation that all will be well. In our close relationship with creation and the cosmos, the word of God can be heard.