I’ve recently been reminded of the value of silence, or at least having a break from all the noise that assaults us each day. With so much negativity in the air, it can be difficult not to get infected, not to become judgmental, not to lash out or over-react, not to get overwhelmed, and not to break down. Silence, having the space to think and regroup and nurture oneself, is an antidote to everything that comes at us.
I use the word “antidote” because the hostile attitudes that are becoming more common pass from
person to person and infect each individual, causing damage that it sometimes irreversible. We don’t
just need a break; we need something that can heal the infection and inoculate us against it in the
I rediscovered silence by accident. I was driving home from work and couldn’t find anything on the radio
I liked, so I turned the noise off. When I arrived home and found I was calmer than I had been for several
days, I wondered what had happened. When I didn’t listen to music the next day while riding my bike
and found I enjoyed just looking at the passing scenery, I realized I was on to something. Recently, one
of the volunteers at Peace House Community led our group discussion time by inviting us to silently
listen to meditation music. I was thrown off at first, since speaking is the point of a discussion, but the
silence brought something to the group that talking wouldn’t have.
Of course, I’m not the first to discover the power of silence. Religious and spiritual practices have valued
it for centuries. School teachers use it every day in their classrooms. But when you are a “grown up” in
the “real world”, you don’t have time for silence, and you need to get things done. In our digital age, we
need to stay informed, responding quickly to whatever pops into our email inbox or our social media
feeds. Or so we are told, and so I believed.
The truth is that silence still has the power to refresh, to calm, and to center. It has never gone away,
and it will always offer a sanctuary to us.
Silence is harder for many of us to attain than others. Living in a crowded house, moving around a
metropolitan area, dealing with our electronic age – it all drowns out the silence. Carving out the time
and space to experience silence, to take a break from everything that comes at us, isn’t easy. For many,
it is a luxury they can scarcely afford, which is a tragedy by the cost of constant noise is itself so high.
I pray that we all may find the silence we need to deal with this world around us.
by Marti Maltby, Director Peace House Community – A Place to Belong
This article originally appeared in “The Alley,” the newspaper for the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.