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What You Can Learn from Listening to Silence

Updated: May 22, 2021

You might believe that silence, like stillness, is important; a bit like taking your vitamins or doing a January alcohol detox. However, living with silence is hard. Here’s why I think this is the case: silence yields things that are hidden and hidden things or the unknown can be scary. Better the devil you know and all that! Or is it really a better way to live – running from the silence, running from the unknown, the deeper mysteries of life and the silence which enfolds them??

If silence enfolds the hidden mysteries, then silence is also the great revealer and on our more courageous days don’t we really want to know what’s there? Might there be something better, something good, something greater, as well as any possible threat? I suggest, or dare to say that I know there is something better that can only be found in this place. And yes we might need to face hidden ‘threats’ too, but these won’t be sharks or murderers, they will be…the shadows of our own self.

When we submit to silence, we aren’t in control, as we are in submission, so we don’t know exactly what might arise. Maybe some long unprocessed grief, maybe a raging fear of loneliness or insignificance might emerge and these things arise asking to be acknowledged, accepted or dealt with so we can become more whole. But there is also something else that arises in the silence, something that is other than our shadow self, something that is a gift and I argue, something that comes to us in the moments of honest realization of our deeper (and at times uglier) selves.

In silence we find not an absence or hollow silence but a real ‘presence’. There is a beautiful Presence that is with us in silence. This Presence strengthens us so we can face the sharks in our soul, the murderous attitudes in our heart, the shadows in our past. This Presence is like the silence, its a ‘still, small voice’ that is within us but also without and has a real, yet invisible substance and character to it. For myself this is the Divine Presence.

So often the most precious things are difficult to find and mine (think of diamonds in the rocks), but they are worth the effort. Silence is the ‘rock’ from which we can ‘mine’ the diamonds of Divine Presence that is greater than our shadow self and this Presence comforts, heals, restores and strengthens and like diamonds this Presence endures and beautifies.

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