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My daughter and I have operated in silence a lot this week, our spring break. She’s been busy working on scholarships, and I’ve been trying to catch up on jobs around the house that I can’t normally do while I’m in school. She tried to use the stereo system one day, only to be foiled by a missing cord that attaches to her iPod, and I turned it on one day, too, only to realize two hours later that the sound had never actually come on–it had still been set to the iPod setting. We were so busy, I never noticed.
I also went to a Bible study that featured a practice called Lectio Divina, where a passage is read three times while we listen in silence, underline words or phrases that jump out at us, and otherwise silently reflect on what we’ve heard. Not one of the 80 or so college students in the room made any sound the whole time.
In my elementary school library this year, the librarian is making a huge effort to give the kids this kind of silent, focused time to read the research materials for various projects. Getting 28 or so elementary kids to be perfectly silent for even just five minutes is a big job! It’s so difficult for them.
When that silence falls over the room, though, you can feel the tensions leave. The interest in the material rises; there is a peace and sense of rightness with the world that’s hard to explain. At the end of it, nearly every child would be able to say something that they learned and found interesting from what they just read. It feels almost magical.
The birds outside my house seem to sing louder, when I’m being silent. I hear more varieties than just the “Caw, caw,” of the boisterous crows. I listen to the softness of the rain through the trees, and I pay more attention to the movement of the clouds and the light on the water of Puget Sound. It feels almost magical.
When I’m silent, and reading Scripture, God seems to speak louder. A phrase will jump out at me as I hear it read over and over again, and the quiet makes me ask God what he wants me to learn from it. It gives me space to listen. It feels almost magical.
Do you ever give yourself the almost magical gift of silence?
In quietness and trust is your strength. . . . Isaiah 30:15