Silence Part 3: Wendy Bray considers the challenge of silence is a noisy world
'For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.' When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Revelation 7:9 - 8:5
John's vision in revelation suggests a breathtaking sight. yet even the magnitude and scale of what he experiences demands silence for emphasis, like an interval in a play. The silence itself is full of meaning: it is 'a dramatic pause' (NIV Study Bible). In a noisy world, we can find the idea of silence difficult, even frightening. yet for many ancient civilisations — the Greeks, romans and aztecs especially — silence was observed, valued and incorporated into ceremonial occasions. It was recognised as a meaningful contrast to the everyday cacophony of voice and activity.
Today's world is finding ever more ingenious ways to make itself and its occupants noisy, so it follows that our society has become more uncomfortable with silence. To enter silence, to request or to share it, is rare. But when we do, on remembrance day or as a mark of respect, it is often welcomed, grasped thirstily and valued as a time of respite. Lucy Winkett tells how, when she was Canon of St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London, she witnessed a remarkable event. On the day of the first commemoration of the London 7/7 bombings, the cathedral bell tolled at twelve noon for two minutes of silence. Office workers, tourists and passers-by walked towards St Paul's. Then they stood quietly together before the dome, alone with their thoughts but united in silence.
Perhaps, Lucy suggests, the church has a role in this noisy society to call people into silence in such a way. Those among the crowd who responded might agree. They might also agree that there is something healing in silence: it draws us in, offering us heightened awareness, away from distraction, enabling us not only to live in the present moment but also to find its deepest meaning, solace and significance.
Taken from Day by Day with God, published by Bible Reading Fellowship, available to purchase from Eden.
March 7th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Ian Matthews