'We need to find God, and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.' ~Mother Teresa
In the Old Testament there is a story told in the Book of Kings about Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-16). He was a man in trouble and was running for his life. He was gripped by fear and terror and he was hiding in a mountain cave. Elijah is directed to step outside the cave where God promises to pass by. Elijah thinks God will definitely be found in the thunder or lightning but that wasn't to be. He didn't find God either in the earthquake or fire that followed. Interesting and significantly Elijah found God in the gentle breeze. God was found in a tiny whispering sound. There are lots of interpretations to the story but the simple message is that Elijah found God in silence.
The world we live in today is busy and noisy, from television, radio, computers, traffic, machinery and the general hum of busyness. Today if we find ourselves in silence we are uncomfortable with it. We try and fill that silence with noise. So if God is to be found in the quieter moments of life, then finding God today is a real challenge in an often noisy world. Finding God is quieter moments is not something new. In the Psalms we have the beautiful words: "Be still and know that I am God." In silence we can hear the whisper of God. As chaplain to Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí (Bantry Community College), I am aware how young people yearn for silence. In our Prayer Room we create the space so that they can quieten down and be still. When the time is up the usual response is: "When can we do this again." So no matter what our age silence is important and we need it.
Spiritually it is a beautiful gift but unless we make the time and space for silence, it simply won't happen. Long periods of silence can be frightening. The best place to start is by sitting quietly for one minute and then this can be stretched to a few when we get comfortable with it. A little each day can make such a difference, providing us the best chance to connect with God. You can call it quiet time, prayer, mindfulness, reflection, meditation or sitting quietly, it doesn't matter. It is the benefits of doing it, that make it so worthwhile.
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