Following our entering through the ‘door of sanctuary’ with virtue, Abbot Christopher suggests we need to lay a floor of silence. The Abbot recommends a period of silence in the morning and another at night – effectively book ending our days with silence.
Catherine de Hueck.Doherty has this to say about silence and the ‘desert place’:
“If we are to witness to Christ in today’s marketplaces, where there are constant demands on our whole person, we need silence. If we are to be always available, not only physically, but by empathy, sympathy, friendship, understanding and boundless caritas, we need silence. To be able to give joyous, unflagging hospitality, not only of house and food, but of mind, heart, body and soul, we need silence.
“True silence is a suspension bridge that a soul in love with God builds to cross the dark, frightening gullies of its own mind, the strange chasms of temptation, the depthless precipices of its own fears that impede its way to God.
“True silence is the speech of lovers. For only love knows its beauty, completeness, and utter joy. True silence is a garden enclosed, where alone the soul can meet its God. It is a sealed fountain that he alone can unseal to slacken the soul’s infinite thirst for him.”
[from Poustinia by Catherine de Hueck.Doherty]
The need for silence and holding our tongue is prevalent through out the ancient scriptures, particuarly in the Psalms and Proverbs (and also the book of James).
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O LORD.
We do not need to prove our existence with our many words, or prove ourselves to God with our mouths. We are free to be silent in his presence. As wonderful as it is to produce sound and meaning with our bodies, we are not defined by these actions.
When asked about how she prays Mother Theresa replied, “Mostly, I listen”.
The frustrated interviewer then asked “Well then what does God say?”
“Mostly he listens.” She replied.
Be still and know the LORD is God.