Learning Silence

I love sharing. I love having a tea in hand, sitting across from someone with a listening ear and exchanging what has been transformational in each of our lives.  I have walked out of those moments feeling like life has been breathed into me, and truly believing that that is what life is supposed to be about – the sweet rhythm that words create as they are crossing paths for the first time; the “Me too’s!” that burst forth, and the feeling that loneliness has no existence in such a place. However, what happens when it feels like sharing has become more life-taking than life-giving? What happens when it feels safer to keep the words inside?

I have thought about this a lot lately. From my last entry to even spending time with my closest girl friends, I have found that I am sharing to the point of losing the excitement of what has happened. What is colored exciting seems to lose its shade the more it’s shared, leaving me a bland shade of a memory.

One of my favorites, Henri Nouwen, quotes Diadochus of Photiki in his book The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence when he says:

“When the door of the steambath is continually left open, the heat inside rapidly escapes through it; likewise the soul, in its desire to say many things, dissipates its remembrance of God through the door of speech, even though everything it says may be good …Timely silence, then, is precious, for it is nothing less than the mother of the wisest thoughts.”

How I’m relating to this thought more recently is learning the discipline of silence. I’m seeing the importance of what it means to maintain the “steam” inside without feeling the need to always share. Specifically, I’ve found that there is something kind of lost when I am too eager to share what the Lord is doing in my life. These revelations themselves are so worth celebrating, but perhaps it is first and foremost done in the silence of self and God. It is to sit in the awakening with palms open and an expectant heart ready to receive, and not about the rush to find affirmation of what has just occurred.

I do not believe that anything God reveals can truly lose its meaning, but I do believe that there is a richness in the human spirit when it is so closely intertwined with the Spirit of Him. And most often, this comes with silently letting it be just as it is. The silence really is about listening  – to Him and others – and taking joy in what is heard. I will know when to share, but for now, the silence will do.

“Our first and foremost task is faithfully to care for the inward fire, so that when it is really needed, it can offer warmth and light to lost travelers.” – Henri Nouwen


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