You would think silence would be easy… And if you grabbed a shallow, material definition of the word “silence” you would be right. Because anybody who is older than 13 has an easy enough time just closing their mouth. As a result, by some ways of thinking about it, such a person would be silent.
But of course, we all know that we can stop making physical noise and be so far away from silent. Sometimes, these are the times when our minds and hearts are making the most noise: those times when we are physically silent.
The point of meditation and contemplation is this deeper silence. I have been thinking about this lately: the idea that we cultivate these Deep Silences. They seem to be the only appropriate response to many of the mysteries that surround us.
In lots of important ways, we are little, tiny things adrift in an ocean of things way bigger than us. The Mystery of life, and of death. The Mystery of suffering, and of injustice. The Mystery of existence, and of God.
We won’t ever fully grasp these things. We can’t explain them away, we can’t control them. There are probably times that it is worth trying to chisel away at little aspects of them that we might wrap our brains around. But equally, there are times to humbly agnowledge our position to these things.
In some way, my silence becomes a sort-of offering to God. As I thought about this, I remembered these words of Mother Theresa. She told an interviewer once, that one of her ways of praying was to listen to God. When the interviewer asked what God was saying, she said that God was saying nothing; God was listening to her. Mother Theresa described this process, where she and God listened to each other, listening to each other. I love that, even though I don’t know exactly what it means.
I kind-of hope it means something like presenting my silence to God as an offering, though. Other wise thinkers have talked about contemplation as an act of reflecting God’s image back at God’s self. Being silent is like preparing my inner mirror, cleaning off the accumulated grime of my ego and baggage, so I can more fully reflect God.
God, of course, reflects right back at me in those times. And there is this little (big?) piece of God, dwelling inside me. So when I see myself clearly, purely, I see God there, too… It is as if the reflection then aligns with the image outside of me, that I am looking at…
I think I have just reached the place where words stop making sense. Seems like a good place to end and be silent.