Get to know yourself in the silence

Published 8:18 am Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Silence can be a hard thing to keep, as least it is for me.

Sometimes when I’m with someone who never shuts up, nothing sounds sweeter than silence.

Yet, I love it when I’m able to sit with someone and be comfortable with silence between us.

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Often in my columns and my speeches, I speak of being silent with comfort and I hold it up as a blessing.

Yet, the very thing I encourage, I find awkward at times. Isn’t that strange?

Why is it we have this need when with others to fill up silence with words, even meaningless words?

The absence of words can be painful and can make us squirm, turn red and even say the most inappropriate things.

For a number of years while living in Kentucky, I had my own radio show which I enjoyed a lot.

One day, while on the air, my mind drew an absolute blank and, to my utter horror, I simply sat there holding a microphone and was flat silent.

It was only a half-minute, or whatever, but it felt like an eternity in hell.

“Dead air time” is what it’s called in radio and TV, and it is one of the deadliest sins in the business. It only happened to me once, but I’ll never forget it.

Another result of silence can be when speaking is forbidden.

Gene, years ago, worked with Trappist monks in the making of bread. The rule at the Holy Cross Monastery in Virginia was there could be no talking among the monks.

So, when Gene arrived, they were allowed to talk to him as a matter of manners.

Gene told me they never stopped talking to him from the moment he arrived until the moment he left, often all at one time.

They were literally starved for conversation about anything, with anyone, but each other.

In all honesty here, I should say that total silence is as distracting as total talking or noise. It seems to me that we need to discriminate between which is called for and when.

As different ideas and understandings are expressed with others, it can help us to be clearer about how and what we feel or believe.

Remember when we were in school and the teacher would start a discussion on a certain subject that you did not understand? At home you had to read and reread all about it but still didn’t “get it.”

But the next day in class, the subject was discussed by the teacher and the other students until suddenly — bingo! — you got it. In this case, silence and being alone didn’t work but talk in the group did.

However, there comes a time in every life when we need to seek life’s meaning, to touch joy on the inside and, most important, to know God.

Conversation cannot lead us to life’s most important truths.

Rather, we must listen to ones self, and look deep inside.

Words and noise will fill our heads instead of truths filling our hearts and souls. For all of this we must have silence.

Maybe the conversation of life is the learning and the knowing ones self is in the silence.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.