I had a friend whose life, at least the latter part of it, was marked by silence. Phone calls, emails and letters to him received no response. Knocks on his front door went unanswered. Those of us who were his friends would report that he had been seen buying some dried pasta and a jar of sauce, that someone saw him standing on a street corner, that he had been spotted going down into the subway. We were following his life vicariously. But he withdrew so successfully that no one was exactly sure of when he died!
Like many things in Life silence can have various meanings. There is a silence which is a withdrawal from Life, a refusal to engage with it. And then there is a silence that is a concentrated presence in much the way a lioness crouches before she pounces! I have often noticed that while I am engaged in artwork I go silent and become completely oblivious to what is going on around me! I am so focused on following whatever insights are zipping through my brain’s synapses that I am often startled to realize that 4 hours have passed in what to me felt like 10 minutes!
Silence can be either an anesthetic which numbs us to Life’s pain or an intense immersion into some aspect of life. This points out that silence in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It is what we do with it that matters! Food can either fuel our engagement with life or become a refuge from life’s anxieties. Sex can either be the doorway through which we pass into the intimacy of another’s heart or just another way to numb us! Sleep can be either a re-charging or a retreating! Authentic spiritual life is the struggle for balance… the struggle to use all that the Divine has given us without making any of it an end in itself! That struggle can be difficult at times and yet it can also enable us to live more fully… to touch the face of Life itself!