Stepping into Silence

I started reading Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book “The Power of Silence- Against the Dictatorship of Noise” before the COVID crisis began. Little did I know how much I needed silence- and that I would get it in a way that I had not anticipated.

Way back in March – what seems now like a lifetime ago- I (like many people) was glued to the news and to the daily reports of how many deaths, how many new cases – and how the world was shutting down. I live in New York City, which at that time felt bleak indeed. A few months after that, the world was stunned by the death of George Floyd and a new round of media broke out, alongside the unrest in the country. Again, New York City like many other parts of the world was embroiled in upheaval that hadn’t been seen for decades in this country.

The issues of health and social unrest and dislocation are real, but perspective on what is most important is also critical. The reality is that a focus on faith and on the God who controls the universe is far more important than the drama in the news and in the world. It isn’t that we are called to have our head in the sand – not at all. But we do not need to be like the Apostles in the boat trembling in fear and asking whether God sees all of what is going on and cares about us. Jesus is right there with us in the boat and He controls the seas of our lives.

Stepping away from the news, stepping away from the sound of my own voice (as in pausing on this blog for a time as I have) and being in silence has been a delight. Sometimes being in literal silence- in praying the daily rosary or in contemplation – is the renewal I need. Now that mass has started again, it is being in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. Sometimes its just stepping away from electronics and enjoying a board game with loved ones- not really silent, but away from the noise of the world, and focusing on things that really matter. Jesus was very clear that there are really only two things we need to prioritize- the love of God and the love of neighbor. Easy to say, hard to do, but clarifying in deciding what we give our time to.

Silence helps us to see what we can do something about, and what we can’t. Through reflection and listening for the voice of God in our lives we can see where we should accept what is, and where we need God to strive harder- because “through Him all things are possible”.

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