A Defense of Silence

Many of my poems refer to a rush I don’t understand, something that passes me by, something not quite in my ability to grasp. This is my reference to conversation.

I am, and always have been, an extreme introvert, a lover of silence, not quite comfortable when it seems to fall on me to hold a conversation. And I have never liked this about me. It has always been a source of anxiety and frustration. How unfair, I thought, that one who so desires to be able to speak should be so utterly inept.

How very wrong I have been.

We live in a world already choked by an obscene obsession with noise. Silence is automatically labelled awkward, and “introversion” has almost come to be viewed as a disease. Reflection is rare, and silent prayer even more so. Is it any wonder we find so many people utterly directionless and tossed in an ocean of cares and anxieties?

For those who consider themselves extroverts, don’t get me wrong. It’s extremely important to have those willing and able to to do the things you do so well. But ask yourselves: how often do you take time to just walk away from others, put down the laptop and the iPod, and simply let the silence wash over you?

A dear friend once reminded me, “It was in the silence of a cold winter’s night that Christ came into the world. It’s in the silence that He comes to us again.” Silence is nothing to fear. In silence God is able to work most deeply and effectively in us. By surrendering utterly to Him with all our senses and our soul in complete silence, we can be touched by a beauty that even the most moving music, inspiring poem, or deep prayer cannot give to us.

So, my fellow introverted pilgrims, walk confidently in the quiet, for you have a gift: you can more easily reach a peace and beauty that all the words spoken on this Earth can never accomplish. It’s normal to want to talk more, and don’t be afraid to push yourself to speak more freely. But never look at the silence as a curse; it is a far greater blessing than the gift of gab.

And to fellow pilgrims who are more extroverted, continue to share yourself openly and happily, for the ability to share so willingly, to place yourself before the eyes of the world, is indeed a blessing that can accomplish great blessings on this Earth. But never forget to take time to touch Heaven in the silence.

Posted on February 6, 2013, in Insights and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I got your letter. I’m not sure what to say in response, save this: Do not be afraid of that in your life which strikes you as awkward or uncomfortable. Learn to laugh at it instead. It is far healthier and infinitely freeing. The man who bursts into hearty laughter at his own folly is a man who soars by the act on majestic wings, the wings of eagles. And a jolly pair of fools we are, aren’t we? I know I am. I try so hard to be pure and full of joy, and yet I read books upside down and laugh at crude jokes. Allow that comic element to exist in life, to crashingly disrupt the flow of everything else. Don’t worry about it, in other words. And I am very glad you’ve found something that gives you peace.

  2. Thank you. Joviality is another area in which I need greatly to improve. For all the reflecting on beauty and truth I engage in, I seem to forget the simple truth that part of life’s beauty is the immense joy that comes with it, particularly in recognizing my own foolishness and being able to laugh at it. Thank you for that reminder. Indeed, jolly fools we are, my friend. I just may need a reminder now and again of that fact.

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