“Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace. World wars are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the souls of modern men and women, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul.” (Fulton Sheen, Peace of Soul, pg. 1)
I remember when I first read Bishop Fulton Sheen’s book “Peace of Soul” and my reaction to that first line from the book. He made it sound so simple. It’s not that I disagreed with him; I knew full well that he was right. Most of the conflicts and issues that we face are not due to something external, but more so our own internal conflicts coming out or being triggered by an external stimulus. If the solution is so simple, why is it not being solved? Why do we still have so many conflicts within our own lives? Yes there is the aspect of original sin and what that brought into our world, but there is also a deeper truth that lies within every single one of us.
We are afraid of silence.
Pope Benedict XVI’s when talking about silence stressed the point that silence is not merely the absence of noise. One can sit quiet, but still not be silent. The word “silence” comes from the Latin word “silentem” which means being “still, calm, quiet.” Notice the first two words: still and calm. We can be physically silent, but still be completely agitated or anxious. But when someone truly is silent, they are calm, they are still, they are fully present and they are at peace.
Why would we be so afraid of such a peaceful and calming state? It is because in those moments of silence, we are able to finally listen to everything that we have been trying to drown out with noise.
Think of when you are driving your car down the highway. It’s a beautiful sunny day, windows open with the wind blowing in your face. A light flashes on your dashboard. You notice it but decide to ignore it. Eventually it starts blinking, and it begins to annoy you. To drown it out you cover it with black tape and continue driving. Shortly after, you hear a beeping sound. It starts to get on your nerves so you turn up your radio. It doesn’t last long before you see smoke from your hood and the car stalls. Picturing this scenario you would think, why wouldn’t the person just pull over and check out what was going on in the first place and deal with the problem before it got worse? Why wait until the car actually breaks down.
How many times have we ignored those blinking lights or beeping sounds in our own lives? How many times do we try to cover it up with a temporary Band-Aid solution or we turn up the noise in our busy lives? It’s easy to ignore those reminders that we get, or to drown them out with noise and media. But when all hell breaks loose…we blame God and are angry that a particular situation happened to us. It can be a little ironic if you ask me.
God doesn’t offer us temporary Band-Aid solutions, nor does He encourage us to enter into more noise. In fact, He invites us into that silence; right into that spot where it hurts the most. He invites us there not because He wants us to feel the hurt and pain we carry there, but because He wants to fill it with His love so that we can heal from it. The key is, we need to give Him permission to enter there. This is where the silence comes.
That place of calm and stillness, allows us to see more clearly what pains and burdens we carry. It gives us a clearer perspective of certain situations and thoughts that we hold, and gives us the proper environment to navigate through them and heal from them.
Now, it’s easy to write this and explain why silence is so important. It becomes much harder to actually live it out everyday. So why do I feel pulled to write about it? Because I am a silence runaway. I can give you 101 reasons why silence is needed and important, but I can also give you 101 reasons as to why “the struggle is real” when it comes to truly embracing silence. What I can tell you, is the moments when I made that choice to dive into that silence, are the moments that not only healed me the most but also brought me the most clarity. It didn’t come without struggles, and sometimes even pain and tears, but it did come with a genuine peace of soul and a deeper understanding. What is important is that we keep striving for it.
I encourage you all to take this silence challenge. Start with even 1 minute of silence a day. That small moment of allowing yourself to be still, and be fully present to God. Watch as God works to change your life and speak to you. Only in the silence and stillness of our hearts will we hear Him speak.
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