Silence is Golden

Pipe down out there. Life is loud, there’s no denying it: traffic, roadworks, dogs – it’s all happening. Silence is becoming so unusual that it’s almost mythical, the thing a lot of people long for but don’t know how to capture.

Noise pollution is a major concern, especially for city planners. Excessive noise can affect physical and mental health with heart disease, stress and sleeplessness on the increase. Even wildlife is affected with birds unable to hear a mate’s call.

I’m sitting by a lake in Austria. It was VERY QUIET.

You’ll probably not be surprised to hear that I love things to be quiet. I don’t mind those awkward silences in conversations either. We’re all wired differently, of course, but I’m one of those people who can’t really function without it. 

I went on a silent retreat to Corrymeela some years ago and felt as if I’d fallen into a pool of calm. No small talk chit-chat over the shared dinner breaks, no need to fill the gap, the pressure to talk taken away. It was glorious. 

And incredible things happened. For the first day or so I felt strange, hardly recognising myself. Who am I when I’m not talking? Uncomfortable truths started to emerge too, as if they’d been shouted down for years and had never been able to speak up. I looked at them, looked at the sea, and sat still. I was turbulent yet calm, settling into it and feeling my shoulders drop as my breath deepened. And I know that God sat next to me in this stillness.

This is the power of silence. It is full, meaningful, precious. It is both heavy and light. It’s no coincidence that as a society we hold a minute’s silence when the need arises to reflect and remember. Or the therapeutic intervention that sits in the room with someone who is in pain and says nothing – when words fail, silence speaks. 

Peace and quiet go hand in hand. Finding stillness in the rush of modern life is challenging but even a few minutes here and there can allow us to catch our breath. 

Silence is golden. Let it shine.