The Grace of Silence


“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2

I was having drinks with a friend recently, a self-proclaimed “agnostic.” As an aside, my definition of agnosticism is someone who lacks the intellectual curiosity to learn what Faith entails yet also lacks the (fill in your descriptive term of choice) to outright deny the the existence of a Creator. And yes, I said this person was a friend and yes, we were having a drink.

Actually, I don’t determine friendships based on someone’s political, religious, social, or financial viewpoints even if they differ from mine. Many of my friends hold beliefs diametrically opposed to mine. In fact, I can easily befriend anyone as long as we can share a laugh, a vigorous debate, and a handshake (or hug if they have no personal space issues) over a meal or drink. Well, except Philadelphia Eagles fans and anyone who still has a pair of JNCOs lurking in the back of their closet (you folks know who you are). Sorry, but a guy’s gotta have his standards.

Back to the story. My friend had read a recent post of mine that contained a bit of a faith overtone. He chortled and said “wait – you don’t really believe God actually speaks directly to you or anyone else, do you?” I thought a moment and remembered advice I’d been given a long time ago. I told my friend “The way I see it, life is a school. There are many teachers and God comes to different people in different ways.”

He laughed off my answer and we changed the topic to football. Because, you know, Super Bowl LI.  (Editor’s note: can we TALK about that come back?”)

The truth is, God doesn’t have to speak to us through state-of-the-art sound systems, or even through disembodied booming voices from the heavens. The book of Job tells us “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.” (Job 33:14).

Rather, I believe God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. In her book In the Heart of the World, Mother Teresa considers this subject. “In the silence of the heart God speaks,” she writes. “If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Perhaps all of us need a bit more silence in our lives these days…

Colossians 1:17

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