“If I were a physician, and if I were allowed to prescribe just one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence.”
When I consider that Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wished he could prescribe silence in the 1800’s, I’m overwhemed. I long for his “noisy” world compared to the one I must navigate today!
And why is Kierkegaard worried about noise anyway? The philospher replies with a profoundly rhetorical question:
“Even if the Word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, how could one hear it with so much noise?”
Perhaps we are deaf to the Word of God precisely because we so often choose noise over silence. Kierkegaard concludes simply:
Therefore, create silence.
This silence is the opening by which reality may penetrate the heart; it is a silence that grows when we trade “down time” for true leisure, rest and discovery.
“Leisure is a form…of that silence which is a prerequisite of reality: only the silent hear and those who do not remain silent do not hear,” writes Josef Pieper:
Silence, as it is used in this context, does not mean ‘dumbness’ or ‘noiselessness’; it means more nearly that the soul’s power to ‘answer’ the reality of the world is left undisturbed.
Wherever I can invite this true silence in, I will. When it is my choice, when it’s in my control, I will favor silence and open my heart to the Word.
I will open my soul to its wordless power to “answer” the reality of the world.
I’m starting here: I will limit media consumption to the already-noisy pockets of my day. Even then I’ll choose my sources wisely, so that they, too open my heart to goodness, truth and beauty, preparing me to more fully experience God when precious silence returns. In the morning’s first moments. Escaping when I can at midday. At the office of night prayer.
In the silence of my holy hour at church.
Kierkegaard’s thought in this post is referenced in A Silent Lent by Br.
This post is part of a series (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence).
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