Listening to Sacred Stillness: Hearing the Voices in the Silence


Hearing the Voices in the Silence

It is easy for us to become entangled in all the things going on all around us. We would like  to see the most interesting new movies and read the best new books. The news demands our attention all day every day. The demands of work and family, friends and neighbors surround us.

There is no time for getting enough sleep, much less for listening to voices in the silence.

Any voices in the silence which we might hear are drowned out by all the other noise.

How can we hear the voices in the silence, if they are really there, much less listen well? When do we have time to explore the deeper, sacred truths of our lives? Where can we go to find help?

Listening to sacred stillness is a practice which has changed the way I live my life. Yes, while it grew out of the spiritual life in me, listening has strengthened many aspects of who I am. It has shown me who I am on a deeper level and helped my connect to others more honestly.

Listening has helped strengthen my intellectual and emotional lives. It has changed the ways I relate to people and to the world around me. I understand myself differently. It has developed my curiosity and creativity.

The practice of listening to sacred stillness has enriched my life on many levels, in many ways. Each day, each moment, is a new beginning filled with opportunities to listen and learn.

We practice listening so we can hear the voices which are already there in the stillness.

Hearing the Voices in the Silence Around Us

As we practice listening to sacred stillness we become able to hear the voices in the silence. For me, those voices are people I have heard and still remember. Even though I sometimes think I have forgotten, the voices still speak to me.

There are voices we have heard longer than we can remember. Some of them are voices of parent or siblings, ways our families shape how we understand ourselves. There are voices of teachers and preachers, friends and people whose faces we can no longer remember.

Their voices are still there, waiting for us in the stillness.

Some of them are voices we are grateful to remember, words of encouragement and recognition. There are also more critical voices waiting for us.

Listening to sacred stillness is not about cataloging all the things people have said to us. We are listening to hear ways we can let go of the past, not allow it to control our future.

As we listen we spend time reflecting on what the voices in the silence are saying to us. We allow the stillness to give us time and space to discern the leaning of what they have said.

Sacred stillness may remind us of voices we have heard which have shaped us. We listen, sorting the lessons we want to learn from what we want to leave in the past.

Hearing the Voices in the Silence in the World

Listening to sacred stillness helps us reflect our way through the voices in the silence of the world. Voices in the silence call out to us, asking for our help and attention.

We hear stories of natural disasters, political conflict, acts of violence. The voices of people injured by all these cry out to us to do what we can. We remember their cries long after we first hear them. As we listen to sacred stillness we reflect on what we can do to make a positive difference in the world.

It is easy for us to feel overwhelmed by the difficulties of the world. Story after story washes over us like the tides. We are not able to discern how to help in one before the next is breaking over us.

Listening to sacred stillness gives us a practice to allow ourselves to struggle with what to do. The challenges we face are not primarily analytical questions. The difficulties we face are more than we can realistically handle.

We are connected to more and more of the world instantaneously. When problems arise we are alerted almost immediately.

It is important for us to have ways to find wisdom in the urgent needs surrounding us. We take some time each day to listen to sacred stillness and hear what the voices in the silence tell us.

It is not up to us to do everything, but to understand what we can do and do that.

Hearing the Voices in the Silence Within

The voices of our past and the voices of the world are not the only voices waiting for us. The most distracting voices in the silence may be the voices within ourselves.

When I try to practice listening to sacred stillness it is as if my mind begins generating voices. There are reminders of things I wanted to accomplish, people I intended to contact.

Many of the voices are strong advocates this may not be the best opportunity to spend time listening.

It is as if our minds are programmed to solve puzzles and problems. They appear to see listening and not being distracted as a problem to solve. The more things they can remind us to do, the smaller the listening problem becomes.

Our challenge is to find ways to control our own minds. The voices within us are not negative or evil. Our intention, though, is to spend time listening to sacred stillness.

Arguing with the voices in the silence within us does not help us listen. It is, in fact, a distraction.

We often do not hear the voices in the silence within us until we become stronger listeners.

As we become disentangled from what distracts us we begin to hear the voices in the silence.

What are we hearing from the voices in the silence this week?

How will we sort out the wisdom from the foolishness in the voices in the silence today?

[Image by Joe’sMom Photography]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

"I am a person who cannot resist asking questions; they are outpourings of my spiritual ..."

Practices From the Inside Out: Asking ..."
"Anne Lamott is also a good source on humor and the sacred. Life is funny, ..."

Practices From the Inside Out: The ..."
"When you struggle to be the best person you can be, that's a good struggle. ..."

Practices From the Inside Out: Our ..."
"Interesting distinction between silence and stillness. Stillness often involves silence but not all silence is ..."

Listening to Sacred Stillness: Many Silences, ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment