Shut up and listen

If you are anything like me (perish the thought!), your prayer time looks something like this:

You’re knelt before your bed, probably tempted to lean over onto your elbows but straighten your lumbar region and flex your core to endure the posture-filled prayer stance that joins you (ever so slightly) with Christ’s cross.  After getting over the minuscule pain, you start off with one spiritual foot into the direction of God’s presence.  You get so giddy that you start showering Him with requests, praise, hymns, maybe even a few curse words if you had a bad day.  In any event, the first part of your prayer is filled with your words… and so is the middle…. and the end….

I got a wonderful idea when I was praying in this way: if I want to be more like God, perhaps I too should shut up and listen.

I took a page out of my Father’s book and, for the past week, have done as little speaking as humanly possible.  While most people looked at me funny because I was abnormally silent in the presence, it turned out to be an epic week.  I learned about their deepest desires, their needs and what makes them genuinely happy.

The best part- I listened as they solved their own problems through their own words.  By talking themselves through it, they became very satisfied with their discoveries and then thanked me (for doing absolutely nothing).

And so it is with prayer.  I think God’s silence speaks more than his words ever could.  That’s why, when I think about the Bible, I think about those written words as great pieces of advice, but there is so much that remains unwritten.  It is like outer space, we know a lot about it, but there is so much more to be discovered.

The only way to discover anything, then, is through silence, His and ours, because seeping through the barrier of words grows the profound roots of Truth.

So shut up every once in a while.  In doing so, you’ll know exactly when you should speak up.

The Silent Nights of Advent

One of my favorite parts of the Advent season is the beautiful music we hear.  It is only during this time that we listen to classics like “The Little Drummer Boy”, “Silent Night”, and my personal favorite “O Holy Night”.  Attached to these songs there exists a sentiment  of divine love, perhaps because the composers were inspired by the joy that Christmas brings.

One of these songs, “Silent Night”, calls to mind the immense seclusion of our Savior’s birth.  In the dark stable, away from the commotion of the busy city of Jerusalem, all was calm and all was bright.  Even when the angels sang “Alleluia” from heavens above, silence remained here on Earth as the blessed Child slept in heavenly peace.  For the beauty of the moment, human words could not suffice, nor were they needed.

Saint John Baptist De La Salle understood the importance of both interior and exterior silence:

“Hold silence in great esteem, and observe it willingly. It is the guardian of all the virtues and an obstacle to all vices, because it prevents detraction and all language contrary to charity, truth, and modesty. We must use language only for necessary things and not distract ourselves with worldly conversation and useless words. Often reflect that a person who is not reserved in speech cannot become spiritual and that a sure means of attaining perfection rapidly is to avoid sins of the tongue…. Strive always to unite interior silence with the exterior silence of the tongue, forgetting created things in order to think only of God and of the holy presence of God, with whom you must always endeavor to converse interiorly.” ~Collection of Various Short Treatises, Means to Perform Their Actions Well, pg 63

As we approach the final week of Advent, take some time to appreciate the beautiful music of the season.  But please, do not forget to appreciate the inexpressible beauty of silence.