Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
After everyone had partaken of the Eucharist a complete silence fell upon the Church. Not a sound was to be heard; no coughing or shuffling in the pews, no traffic noise outside, and even the birds in the churchyard trees seemed to fall silent. It only lasted for a few minutes but I think we all experienced a sense of deep peace – I know I did.
Sometimes we have difficulty with silence; we shuffle uncomfortably in our seats, twiddle our thumbs anxiously. As nature abhors a vacuum, so too, silence seems to need to be filled. In the busy, noisy world around us we feel unable to cope without the comfortable blanket of noise, where someone else is feeding us information, entertainment or whatever. At least then we do not have to think too deeply for ourselves. Silence gives us space, an opportunity to think, to reflect. And that can be the problem. What thoughts will come to the surface, to fill the vacuum? Are they things we have been trying to bury in the everyday noise? Do we really want to stand naked, (metaphorically speaking, anyway), before God to face up to our wrong-doings? We need not worry for God knows us better than we know ourselves!
Yet it is vital to make time for a period of silence each day, a time to be alone with God without distractions, to speak with Him and to listen to His words; a time to pray, to reflect and to contemplate. We need to make time to just be still; perhaps to look out of the window at the glory of God’s Creation. Look at the cotoneaster bush heavy with bright red berries for the birds to feed on before winter. See the little wren scratching about in the fallen leaves on the edges of the garden for any bugs she can find. Look at the moon, the stars - they are all part of God’s glorious handiwork. And reflect on Psalm 8: 4-6 When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place, what are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honour.
So whilst we are using our time of silence to reflect on the glory of God’s Creation let us not forget the second great commandment: Love thy neighbour. Take time to think, to ask; what does God want me to do for my neighbour today?
Of course, there is a time to put silence aside and to speak out, against wrong doings, against injustice. And perhaps we will return to that another day.
On that Sunday God was with us in the silence. Let us then, today each take time away from the hectic world we inhabit to spend some time in silent communion with God, our Father and our Creator.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years