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Living Faith: The sound of silence

Created date

January 22nd, 2013

The number of voices and noises that barrage us is enough to make one scream! People speak 16,000 words per day, enough to fill the first Harry Potter novel in just five days. Advertisers bark at us 5,000 times a day. We meet people for coffee, lunch, meetings, happy hour, and dinner. We answer our phones, listen to voicemail, return email, send text messages, and check our Facebook pages. Screeching sirens make us cover our ears, blasting horns make our skin crawl, and roaring machinery forces us to turn up the volume on everything else. It wasn t always this way. Before factories and big cities, most people spent a good part of their days working in solitude, undisturbed by noise pollution. The effects of living in constant noise go beyond hearing loss to increased risk of sleep deprivation, irritability, depression, and cardiovascular disease. But the most damaging consequence may be spiritual: how do we possibly hear the still, small voice of God above the cacophony of other voices constantly bombarding us?

Little solitudes

Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in yourself, advised Saint Teresa of Avila. Authors Richard Foster and James Smith offer practical tips: take advantage of the little solitudes available throughout the day, such as a morning cup of coffee before others arise, turning off the radio in the car, and taking a walk at night. Take a 48-hour media fast. Go a day without speaking. Recently, I went with 11 others on a silent retreat no talking from Friday until Sunday. It was awkward at first, especially while eating vegetarian meals together. But by Saturday afternoon, after spending so much time alone on nature walks, reading, journaling, and praying, I entered a glorious spiritual zone that brought clarity to a number of issues that had been weighing on me. I stayed up late Saturday night and arose early on Sunday morning to savor every minute. I seriously considered skipping the silence-breaking worship service, but then, there is a time to be silent, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7). I had gained control of my tongue! God is always speaking, but often in a whisper. Are we making ourselves available to hear? Write to me at 703 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228, or email me