"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Big Silence

I was up till 1:00 AM Friday night.

I stayed up late watching a fascinating show on BBC called "The Big Silence". For anyone who knows me well, they would know it is not common for me to -- A). Stay up late (I am a seriously "early-to-bed-girl" and, B). Stay up late to watch television. But, I stayed up late. Very late, in fact. I was so deeply moved and fascinated by this show. Early that evening, I went on-line, in fact and watched all three hour long episodes in one sitting... My husband was shocked by the behaviour and he laughed at me!

The show basically explored what solitude and silence does for the soul. For me solitude and silence has been key to my personal emotional and spiritual growth. I can't really articulate how intricate silence has been, but it has been huge. I watched in fascination as a Benedictine Monk took five volunteers, all from varied backgrounds and walks of life, and introduced them to solitude and silence.

After their eight days of a silent retreat, all five people were remarkably changed. It was clear that something very significant happened in their soul. Each one journeyed through frustration, deep dark valleys where they saw the emptiness of themselves, and difficult (hidden) emotions welled up from within each one. Taking away the noise, they all encountered their own "self" and it wasn't a pretty sight... all of them, women and men, young and old, rich and poor... all five came to a place of seeing themselves "more rightly" than they had ever before... just by allowing silence and turning off the numbing noises of life. They also each encountered a place of peace and calm that none had ever experienced.

In my personal journey with solitude and silence, I have found this to be true, as well. Both the darkness and the light have shown forth in these places of quiet.

As a believer it was fascinating to watch each of them encounter, very clearly, God. God's word, God's Presence, God's creation, God's Peace, and His voice were all distinctly felt and experienced by the volunteers at one point. They even articulated it.... and knew it was not from within. It was not "from them" but from "another". And, yet, three of the five walked away from the time not wanting to label that "other" they were encountering- "God". And, certainly these three were not willing to surrender their lives to Him and His love... and this felt deeply sad to me.

Like a man who stands at the door to a warm house, feels the warmth and knows (on one level) the safety that the warmth would provide him... but he chooses to not enter and just to stand outside. There is so much more warmth here by the fire! I would want to yell at that man. Come in you are welcome. Come in... you are only getting a taste of what you can have on the inside!

I wanted to yell this at the television as I watched! Oh, just one more step inside... it is lovely in here.

But we are all on a journey. And, these five individuals were given a sweet taste of what quiet, solitude and silence can do for the soul. And, for me, on my late-night rendezvous with the concept of The Big Silence, I was motivated to go to my calendar and set a block of time in the near future to taste it again. Very soon.
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