The Sounds of Silence

We are so used to noise in our city that we really have forgotten what silence is. The sound of silence is so foreign that we notice immediately it is there. Many years ago, when Ev and I moved into our new home in Endeavour Hills, we lay in bed that first night and were overwhelmed by the silence, which was only punctuated by the sound of a cow. It was as though the ears pounded with the silence. Instead it was a reminder of the noise with which we live day-in-day-out.

Imagine the impact of that on Elijah as he sat in a cave awaiting the arrival of God: wind, earthquake, and fire, but no God. As the environment settled, there he heard the presence of God: the "gentle whisper", which can be translated literally "the sound of a thin silence" (1 Kings 19:13). It was in the stillness that God was found.

How do we make space for this time of stillness and silence in a day when our senses are bombarded not only be the media but by the pace and style of life? These times of silence are as "ballast in the keel", lending some form of stability to our otherwise turbulent lives.

Though society may challenge us to strive for the momentous experience, we will never find true fulfilment until we learn to enjoy the silence, to hear the voice of God, to understand the voices which cry within us. And these can only be recognised as we learn the truth of the Psalmists challenge: "Be still and know that I am God".

August 18, 1996
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