Commentary by Jonathan Matthes
Can you hear it?
Don’t be ashamed if you can’t. It can be hard to hear. The sound of silence is often deafened by our music, or our television or whatever else we can find. Because, if we’re going to be honest, we don’t like silence. We actively avoid it. Since when we are alone, in silence, our only company is us, our thoughts and God.
And that terrifies us.
But there is no need to be scared of silence.
Silence, as Elijah reminds us, is where God speaks to us. Not through earthquakes, rain, or thunder, but in silence. It was in silence that the giant sequoias stretched into the sky. And it was in silence, granted with the aid of the vacuum of space, that man planted his foot on the moon. Flowers bloom and babies grow in their mother’s womb, in silence.
Silence does get a bad rap. Often it’s intertwined with loneliness. At least that’s what Simon and Garfunkel associated it with.
But loneliness and silence are not identical. You can be lonely in the middle of Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Silence, however, has other synonyms: peace, solace and serenity. All of which are some attributes we could use more of.
You see, what makes silence so serene is the exact same thing that makes it so terrifying.
In silence we must confront ourselves. There is no noise to hide behind.
Often times we are afraid to view ourselves, our own souls, through the revealing, naked prism of silence. We are weary of what we will discover. It’s like how we don’t like to hear our voice through a recording. It just sounds so weird, so uncomfortable!
But we should confront ourselves. We should view ourselves through silence. Really, we need silence. We need it to be able to self-reflect. We need it to be able to see ways for self-improvement. We need it to recognize what our genuine strengths are. And we need it to build tranquility, “peace-and-quiet,” in our own person.
At the very least, we should know ourselves well enough that we can be comfortable and confident enough to spend a few moments alone and not be afraid of the silence.
Jonathan Matthes is a Zionsville resident and is studying philosophy at Saint Meinrad Seminary. He can be reached at email@example.com.