It seems as though one of the biggest contemporary sins is boredom. Children complain that they are bored; we as adults fill our schedules running from one activity to the next; our smartphones provide apps and music to fill the duller moments of the day.
The problem is that we often confuse silence with boredom. This past Sunday we held a Taize service in the Chapel. One of the central markers of the Taize service is the extended silence.
Afterwards, I spoke with the youth who attended the service and they reflected that the 5 minutes of silence felt long and awkward. One student commented that she looked at her watch when she began to get uncomfortable in the silence wondering when we would move on—it had been 2 minutes. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but that is about the length of a commercial break.
Silence, however, is a biblical concept. One of my favorite stories comes from 1 Kings:
“Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah discovered the voice of God not in the loud noises around him but in the “sheer silence.” If we shelter ourselves from silence because we fear getting bored, then we may miss the voice of our God who calls to us and wants to direct our lives.
What noises around drowning out the silence in your life right now? How might you fight the temptation and embrace times of silence?
Associate Minister for Evangelism and Young Adult Ministries
First Presbyterian Church
200 West Trade St
Charlotte, NC 28202