The Sounds of Silence

I think one of the eeriest sounds in our culture today is the sound of silence.

I mean, real silence. Even when we think our house is silent, in reality there is an underlying hum of electricity: the refrigerator, the furnace or air conditioner, the low-level buzz of audio equipment. Whenever the power goes off at my house, I find the silence is palpable and, frankly, a bit disconcerting. We like things to hum along. It’s our assurance that things are working.

A few years ago, Catholic author Sara Maitland wrote the fascinating A Book of Silence, in which she explores the nature of silence (is it merely the absence of talking? what about the noise of natural creation? how is silence different from solitude?). She argues — and I agree  — that silence has a profound spiritual dimension.

As a leader, I like the hum of progress. Even my thoughts create noise, it seems. But I need to learn to become comfortable with the sounds of silence as well.

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