Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mepkin Abbey, Monday (Part 2)

Reflections on Grand Silence.

I experienced two particular feelings as we left the church after Compline to begin the Grand Silence, neither of which I expected.  The first was a teeny tiny bit of panic.  It only lasted for a second, but it was definitely present.  What if I needed something and couldn’t ask for it?  What if I had something I desperately needed to say to someone?  Of course, had there been an emergency, or if I was in real need I could have said something. But how often are we ever just cut off from speaking to others? How often are we given a cutoff after which we no longer speak?  So though the panic lasted for a second, I was still very aware of it.

The second feeling was a feeling of humility.  In those first moments of silence I became aware that though there were many things I might want to say—even worthwhile things—those things were insignificant in the presence of God. There was nothing I could say that was worthy of God.  I experienced my own smallness, the smallness of my thoughts, and the smallness of the words that I was forbidden to speak in the presence of God.  It reminded me of what I so often forget:  that profound silence is often the only appropriate response to the vastness of God.  We are so used to noise. We are so used to trying to assign words to every thought we have. And the world of social media has tricked us into believing that every thought we have is worth sharing out loud.  But those words and thoughts—in the presence of God—are petty and small. This is why we need silence.

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