A few weeks ago, we lost the internet at our house. To fix it, we needed a technician to come out, and so for five days, we lost our connectivity. Like so many of us, we have become utterly dependent on those fiber cables that bring us our music, entertainment, news, and so much more. While we don’t watch a lot, we stream most of our music and so many podcasts, which meant that our house was very quiet for a few days.
At first, we were all a little disoriented. I missed the insights of podcasts and the fun of dancing while doing dishes. Our kids moaned about being bored and too much silence. But then, we all sort of settled into the time. My daughter would sing songs she learned at camp to herself. I could hear the birds outside. The imaginative worlds our kids create all the time were even more elaborate. I felt a bit more grounded, more creative, without the buzz and beeps and drone of so many voices.
Sara Novic, a novelist who is hearing impaired, recently wrote an essay in praise of silence. She writes of the space the silence creates, the sentences she writes in her head, the way her mind can wander, the world she notices. She writes,
“While I can’t recommend deafness exactly, what I’ve learned — to see different sensory experiences not as failures but instances of human diversity; to stop conflating the majority experience with superiority; to find the good in the thing that at first really scares you — should be lessons for everyone. Don’t be too quick to turn up the headphones. Embrace silence, or at least some time without constant content consumption. You might even slip into boredom long enough to hear what your mind is saying.”
She described the gifts we experienced in our house during our week without internet, the goodness that filled the space that silence created. But finding the blessings of silence does not require cutting a wire or experiencing hearing loss. Every one of us can be intentional about taking time to be quiet.
Silence has long been an important part of Christian practice. The psalmist wrote, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from God comes my salvation.” (Psalm 62:1). We need time to turn off the voices of this world and all the distractions, and then to simply rest in the presence of God. It takes intention, but when we embrace silence, we’ll create opportunities not only to hear what our minds are saying, but what God is saying to us.