Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sabbath Makes Space for Silence

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation." (Psalm 62:1)  
Why do I run from silence?

I complain of the busyness, the stress, the hurried life. Though I am the mama, the one who is given the task of planning, if not directing, the day, I cannot stop. A loud life assures me of my self-importance and pushes away the fear that I am not.

And even when I push back against a culture, loud and frenetic, "I cannot live in the death of speech." I am given the chance to see the roaring waves pound unending on the beach, but "I cannot stand beside it mute." Rather than let the beauty fill me I fill the silence with "the labor of my words."

Why do we prefer the bombardment of words--the text message, the tweet, those ticker boxes on the news--when we know it deafens?
Mr. Berry says it right and true: "It is in the silence that my hope is, and my aim." 

Silence by Wendell Berry

Though the air is full of singing
my head is loud
with the labor of words.

Though the season is rich
with fruit, my tongue
hungers for the sweet of speech.

Though the beech is golden
I cannot stand beside it
mute, but must say

"It is golden," while the leaves
stir and fall with a sound
that is not a name.

It is in the silence
that my hope is, and my aim.

A song whose lines

I cannot make or sing
sounds men's silence
like a root. Let me say

and not mourn: the world
lives in the death of speech
and sings there


livingpalm said...

True words, these. I have the same problem filling up my head with the labor of words. Sometimes I leave a conversation feeling like I talked too much, but then I realize that most of the words were inside my own loud head!
Thanks also for Mr. Berry's words.

Amy said...

I love Berry's poems. For a while we had a habit of reading one of his Sabbath poems each Sunday. Thanks for commenting I was afraid people would think it was odd to write a post about keeping silence!

Ann Kroeker/Not So Fast said...

I appreciated your honest observation: "A loud life assures me of my self-importance and pushes away the fear that I am not."

The world tries to lure us to words and activity. We have to fight it every moment of every day. Including now. I'm still on my computer 11:00 at night. Time to turn it off and seek silence....

Good words.

Amy said...

Thanks Ann for your comments. I have learned much from you along these lines...


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