Silence is Golden

by Clark Roush, Ph.D.

It appears to me as though our world is growing distressingly cacophonous. It is practically impossible to avoid sonic clutter. We make a phone call,  get put on hold, and we usually have to hear some type of music or voice recording. We have multiple ways to pump sound into our ears and minds as we drive, eat, play, rest, walk, and work. This age of technology makes easy access conducive to abundant ways to copy, download, hear, manipulate, and play with sound. We have the capacity to be aurally stimulated as no other people before us. It would be foolish to not recognize this. I wonder, however, if we are better for it.

Constant sound has a way of slowly draining the body, mind, and spirit of some of its most salient elements. As it pertains to sound, when we head down the slope of “more is better,” I fear we often neglect to ask where we’re headed. The soul of humanity was not wired for constant frenzy or stimulation. When we ignore this inherent wiring, we become wounded in some of our deepest and most significant places. The thing is – we don’t often realize the damage until later, and then it is often difficult to subdue. It is similar to someone who gets “so busy” doing something, that hours later they realized they’ve skipped meal(s), and they are “starving.” I am confident we recognize the sensation of physical hunger – I’m not nearly as confident we recognize our spirit’s cries for nourishment.

This is not another plea for us to slow down – this is an earnest appeal for us to STOP! Just as our bodies cannot handle non-stop movement and energy, our ears, minds, and spirits also need a rest. The “unexamined life” cannot occur during multi-tasking! We need both places and times of silence – complete silence. In these times, we can refresh our spirits, renew our senses, and possible begin to “hear” some of the ignored silent longings of our hearts and spirits. Reflection is best accomplished without the soundtrack of life. I’m referencing a level beyond resting, chilling out, relaxing, or any other level below that of total silence.

A supplication for solitude and silence demands that we take ourselves seriously enough to really learn who we are in relation to who we really need to be. This just cannot be done in the clamor of our daily grind. God appeared to Elijah, not in the loud, bombastic parts of nature, but in a small, still voice. The Psalmist wrote, “BE STILL (emphasis mine), and know that I am God.”  My clarion call is for us to remember the importance of finding a time and place to be completely alone with our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual realities. I know of no better way to add clarity and definition to life than to clear it of noise, thus taking time to hear some of the voices culture often drowns out.