You might find it amusing or ironic that someone who focuses her life on communication would talk about the importance of silence. But I have come to believe that silence is key in all communication.
In the next excerpt in Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton and the Vocation of Writing, Merton speaks about the importance of silence in faith: Without silence, religion becomes religious ideology, because one does not experience the “One Word” of God, which he later defines as Love.
Two years ago this month, I met in Rome with about 50 other Daughters of St. Paul from around the world to deepen our understanding and lifestyle of communication. It was such a privilege to participate in our first ever international meeting focused on the theme of communication.
During the meeting, each day we divided into smaller groups and went over the material for the day in a dialogue style. One of the speakers spoke about the importance of silence in communication: the sacred space between the speaker and the receiver. That day, we were asked to present a summary of what had impressed us so far. Our group decided to begin our five-minute report with a minute of silence where we lit a candle in the darkness and processed it around the room. We wanted to remind ourselves that, as communicators of Christ, while what we say is important, we must also provide space for silence so that those with whom we are communicating can truly encounter the Word. This seems especially critical for our society today.
For me personally, it is essential for me to take time for silence. During these days, my little community of the Daughters of Saint Paul in Toronto is re-forming: Sr. Mary Peter and I remain here, and we are blessed by the arrived of three new sisters: Sr. Helen Rita, Sr. Maureen George, and Sr. Irene. We are spending our first days together getting ourselves organized: offices set up, etc. I am fascinated to observe each sister’s communication style. Two of us are extroverts and three of us are introverts, including myself. While I am tremendously enjoying the opportunity to get to know each sister better, I have also become aware that, if I don’t balance this intense time in community with some quiet time, I start to feel frazzled and out of touch. I have become more grateful for the moments of silence in prayer, and the quiet moments that I sneak in at the end of the day. For me to write, I need a certain kind of interior silence to hear my own thoughts, or what the Lord might be inviting me to notice or to say.
What role does silence play in your communication, in your life, in your faith?