Finally, I can breathe again.
Finally, I know in my heart and feel in my lungs and hear in my soul what silence means.
They say silence is not the absence of sound, but the absence of noise.
They say silence is not the absence of sound, but the absence of self.
They – referring to the ubiquitous anonymi – are right on both counts, on the absence of noise and the absence of self – but they are forgetting one key aspect of silence.
Silence is not about absence at all.
Silence is about presence.
Specifically, God’s presence.
Yesterday I arrived in a small town in New York – the corn stalks might outnumber the people – and settled in for a two week vacation in a small, privately owned, church.
Today, I went for a short walk.
While I was not alone (I had a friend traipsing along behind me), I could feel the silence more starkly than I had felt in weeks, months even.
It wasn’t an auditory silence by any means.
It was a silence of soul – an empty, clean, free feeling: like I could gleefully cry out a praise song in the middle of a field of Queen Anne’s Lace and run with arms outstretched and not a soul in sight would be bothered.
It was an empty, clean, free feeling like I was the lightest person alive, and the only care on my mind for the short time I was out there was ensuring I didn’t step on a bee or making sure I absorbed as much of the sunlight and floral aroma as I could contain in my body.
I could breathe again!
I can breathe again, in this little church on this little plot of land in a little town.
Silence of the soul reminds me of how little I am, and how big He is.
Silence makes room in the heart and soul for Him to come in and fill me with His presence.
Silence is presence.
How much more present are we with our loved ones in the quiet, in the calm?
How much more do we communicate with each other without even needing to use words?
So too with God – being present in His presence while being absent of self, silent to the self, is a deep intimate bond that we are called to share with our Beloved.
A commonly used idiom comes to mind – speak your mind and say your piece.
When I say my piece, I’m speaking solely for the purpose of expressing an opinion, a thought, a memory, a story.
By nature, “saying my piece” is expressing myself.
I am struck by the idea that we are not the only ones who need to say our piece – God has a piece to say, too.
And it is beautiful.
The Master’s piece is His masterpiece.
He speaks to us through His masterpiece – creation – and His piece is this:
We are His beloved.
Creation was made to delight us.
He delights in us.
The Master has said His piece through his masterpiece of creation, and He eagerly waits for us to respond to His expression of self.
We must respond to His expression of self by being silent to ourselves, by freeing ourselves from worry and time and enjoying His presence and His masterpiece.
Today, I delighted in His masterpiece, I listened in silence as the Master said His piece.
He delights in me.
He delights in me!
Delight in Him, in silence of the soul.
That clean, empty, free, light silence of the soul – and fill your heart and lungs with the breath of the Master.
He bent down to earth and breathed life into His molded son, and Adam was born.
His life-giving breath can give life once more.
The air around me these last few months have been stifling, but at last, in God’s presence, I can breath again – I am alive!