Faith and Life,  Opinion

Talking Heads

Everyone has something to say and is desperate to say it. The subject under discussion is less important, perhaps, than our need to comment upon it and to express our own personal opinion. I note with some irony that this is precisely what I am doing as I type these words.

Perhaps we take our lead from the world more broadly, where we are all encouraged to speak – all too often, relentlessly.

The thing is, with all that talking we leave precious little time for listening. And we become so used to speaking that silence frightens us. We begin to believe that silence is emptiness. We have so many questions that we think we have to ‘talk out’ the answers we are looking for. We become talking heads.

And yet, silence is not all emptiness. On the contrary, it is most often within the silence that we find not only ourselves, but the answers we seek.

I was having a conversation a little while ago with a friend and we spoke about silence and it’s value. He commented on the Carmelite spirituality and their love of silence – so very much is to be found within that silence.

Silence is not all emptiness. On the contrary, it is most often within the silence that we find not only ourselves, but the answers we seek.

Will Ross

For a Catholic, silence is crucial. There, in that silence, we stop and we become still, even if only for a few moments. Our prayer takes on a particular quality when we realise this – it becomes a moment of grace, because the emphasis moves from speaking to listening. This is, of course, a grace – it is not something we achieve, but rather it is something we respond to, something which comes from outwith ourselves.

Theologians write about the various ‘types’ (or depths) of prayer – moving from the purely vocal, to the meditative and then finally to the contemplative. That contemplative form of prayer is characterised by it’s quality of simply ‘being’ in the Divine Presence, within profound silence.

And in that particular silence, we will find every answer.

Catholic | Retired Nurse | UK

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