Maxim Monday: Be (religiously) silent

I love this one.

Spring is in full swing here in Olympia. New colors from fresh blooms appear each morning. The sun’s heat is gaining in intensity, despite the bitter the breezes. The lilacs are blooming, although I can’t smell them because my sinuses are blocked up. That makes me sad, since lilac is my favorite scent. The birds are raucous in the twilight periods twice a day. Everything is a cacophony of scent, sound, texture and color.

But I’ve been feeling a little quiet lately. Not withdrawn so much as wanting to be in my body. I want to be outside listening. I don’t want to be on my computer, on the phone, or in the car. I don’t want to talk as much, nor overthink things. In some ways this feels akin to being religiously silent.

There’s a place for silence. Last week I wrote about the importance of listening to everybody. Good listen requires silence. Today’s Maxim builds on the encouragement to remain silent in order to listen and encourages us to remain silent for silence’s own sake, for the mystery of the void.

I think of being religiously silent in many ways. There is the wisdom of not speaking of things we don’t understand, or not speaking of treasured things to people who would mock, exploit or treat casually what we hold dear. There is the wisdom in remaining silent lest we break oaths or reveal secrets and mysteries. On a shallower note, we could view this Maxim as a way to appear more ‘advanced’ and wise than we are. There is a saying, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” But more to the heart of things is the quote from Proverbs (17:28): Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Silence creates a void, a pause. As a singer I learned the importance of the pause, the rest in between notes. It creates a dramatic effect, but also it is in the space between notes where music might be made and felt. The same goes for meditation: the pause between thoughts and/or breaths is where peace and enlightenment might be touched. That void is important in the “passive” acts of reception, but it is necessary too in the “active” acts of creation. We must create space for something new to form, emerge, take root, or be gifted. Silence is often that space.

I used to struggle with this. Oh, how I struggled with rest, space, silence. In the last few months I have seen, felt and understood the beauty, necessity, and wisdom in these things.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

About Niki Whiting
  • Niklas Gander

    Thanks for posting this.

    Hope all is well with you and your’n.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      Yes! We are well.


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