I talk a lot. Too much (some would say). I love lively conversations and big laughs. I like action and music in the background. I’d always rather be a participant than a spectator. I like to be moving and shaking and getting things accomplished.
And I find quiet, well disquieting. Moments of silence seem like an eternity to me. Silent retreats are torturous. And when someone says, “Let’s take a few minutes and quietly reflect”, I can feel my heart start racing and my mind cannot focus on the task at hand. All I can think about is the deafening silence and wonder if I am the only one who is this uncomfortable in THE QUIET. And then I am often amused by a joke that I recall:
There was a monk who took a vow of silence. Every ten years he was allowed to speak only two words. After the first ten years the Abbot summoned the monk and requested his two words, which were: “FOOD COLD“. He was thanked for his honesty. Another ten years passed and the Abbot again summoned the monk and requested his two words, this time it was: “BED HARD“. Again his honesty was appreciated and he left in silence. After thirty years in the Abbey, the monk was summoned once again. His two words: “I QUIT“. The Abbot shrugged and said in reply, “Well, I’m not surprised, you’ve been complaining since you got here.”
Yesterday, once again, I was reminded that quiet moments needn’t be painful, they can in fact be quite beautiful. It’s not easy for me but, when I can shut up long enough to listen with my heart I am blessed beyond measure. Embracing those quiet moments can be a little glimpse of heaven on earth. (Not that I want heaven to be quiet).
Last night my grandson and I were in the backyard talking about baseball and some of our favorite players. The conversation drifted to his upcoming school year. Suddenly our conversation stopped when a bunny hopped up to the patio and stared at us. Once it had our attention it ran off. It proceeded to do this about five or six times. It seemed to be playing with us. So there we were grandson and grandfather immersed in the splendor and joy of this simple act. We were stilled and thrilled and washed in this golden moment. As long as I have memories, this will be one of them.
At bedtime, I remembered another quiet moment that will live in my heart forever. Just a few weeks before my Mom passed away I stopped for a visit. Her pulmonary fibrosis had gotten the better of her that day. She and I just sat and held hands in silence. There she was, near her life’s end, still comforting me. Her soft small hand was holding mine and protecting me as she always did. I believe that she felt the strength in my hand that day and she felt comforted too. No words were needed. Love was conveyed.
So as much as I sometimes curse the silence, I am humbled and blessed by those quiet moments in my life. I pray that the next time I am asked to, “Take a few minutes and quietly reflect” I will remember those quiet treasures I carry in my heart.