There was something very unusual about the two breakfasts we ate at Malvern Retreat House two weekends ago. The dining room had more than 80 people from our group, yet there was no conversation. Except for discussions among the waitpersons, the only sounds you heard were when the metal flatware made contact with the china plates.
Grand silence was being observed. It began after night prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours on Friday and Saturday and ended at morning prayer the following day. We were asked not to talk in public areas of the retreat house, such as the dining room, hallways and lobby. We were allowed to talk to our spouses in our rooms, which did not include televisions.
It was a novel experience to spend that time in that oasis of temporary silence in a world of unceasing noise. Many of us immerse ourselves in an ocean of sounds from the time the alarm clock goes off in the morning. Televisions blare away in just about every place we go. Our TVs or internet music applications fill our day with sounds. Many people take their sounds wherever they go in their ear buds or earphones. The sound of motorized vehicles shatters the silence of nature.
It is almost as though we are afraid to leave any pauses in this constant flood of sound. This is a shame because we can find much value in silence.
In this world of sound, it pays to take the time to wrap yourself in a quilt of quiet. It gives us a chance to assess our life to see what good we are doing for others, what we need to change and for what we have to be grateful.
Most important of all, it gives us a chance to think about God and the fact that every good thing we have we owe to Him. Besides, if we do not allow ourselves to experience silence, we will not be able to hear God speaking in the quiet of our heart.
Shh. Hear God speak.