This morning, a friend sent me a couple of quotes that I had supposedly sent her years ago. I mean, I'm sure I did. It's just that I don't remember either of them and clearly didn't learn a thing from them on the first pass. Let me post them first:
Unfortunately, in seeing ourselves as we truly are, not all that we see is beautiful and attractive. This is undoubtedly part of the reason we flee silence. We do not want to be confronted with our hypocrisy, our phoniness. We see how false and fragile is the false self we project. We have to go through this painful experience to come to our true self. It is a harrowing journey, a death to self—the false self—and no one wants to die. But it is the only path to life, to freedom, to peace, to true love. And it begins with silence. We cannot give ourselves in love if we do not know and possess ourselves. This is the great value of silence. It is the pathway to all we truly want.I've spent time being quiet. My kids were quiet last week. I know how to turn down the sound. In fact, for years I called my Bible reading and prayer hour, a "quiet time."
--M. Basil Pennington
Silence is the measure of the power to act; that is, a person never has more power to act than he has silence. Anyone can understand that to do something is far greater than to talk about doing it. If, therefore, a person has a plan or idea and is fully resolved to carry it out, he does not need to talk about it. What he talks about in connection with the proposed action is what he is most unsure of and most unwilling to do.
I remember naps with little kids. My whole "ragged, on-the-edge" goal by 2 p.m. - get kids into beds and knocked out. I'd be unraveling so fast by that hour, that all I could do was hurl myself onto the floor of the bedroom that had three, four, and finally five kids stuffed into it, letting the current baby nurse while a soft lullaby tape played, hoping the bouncing, questions, tossing and turning would finally collapse into gentle little one snores. I'd extricate myself from the suctioned baby, careful not to disturb a single muscle, and walk into the other room, sighing deeply. Quiet had descended on the apartment. I could draw breath. For a moment.
Silence, though, seems to be another whole level. Silence is not just being quiet, but being with self, alone. Being confronted with hypocrisy? Oh sign me up! Really much easier to be busy and noisy than that. I love that nearly last line of the Basil quote though: "We cannot give ourselves in love if we do not know and possess ourselves." That seems to be the key to living a rich life, doesn't it?
I'm realizing quiet is not silence. Silence is shutting down communication that distracts me from being with mySelf. I want to cultivate a little silence in my life (probably have to start in small doses - I'm pretty addicted to "noise"). What do you do? Anyone practice silence as a discipline?