As I sit in reflection in the very heart of the darkest time, the shortest day of the year, I am more aware than ever of the importance of silence, the silence that surrounds us as the world quiets, and the silence we find within ourselves when we stop and listen.
When I am silent, I hear my true self and access the depths of my soul. When I am silent, I hear with a caring heart. Silence teaches us to know reality by respecting it where words have defiled it. In silent reflection, I am able to abandon myself to the will of the Divine One. If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything because we have said everything before we had anything meaningful to say.
Creating Space for Silence
No amount of technological progress can cure the deep ailments that now face humankind. But we can. We cannot allow ourselves to make the mistake of viewing the world as a gloomy, hopeless place. If all you do is listen to the media, it will depress you and draw you away from the peace and healing of silence and solitude.
The more we remove ourselves from ‘information overload’ the more we are able to fulfill our spiritual path. This leads us to live in harmony with one another, loving in a way that truly reflects a response of the will of God.
Finding God in Silence
In this age of reason and rational thinking how do we explain the phenomenon of God? In the true sense of the Christ, or God experience, there is an understanding, and the need for contemplation followed by a response. This is experienced within a place of hesychia. Hesychia is the Greek word for ‘quiet,’ and it is a spiritual practice of being totally still. This practice has been used by the Eastern Christian Mystics for centuries.
There are four characteristics of hesychia:
- A state by which you strive to be in a place of total rest, stillness and quiet, which exudes reading and even meditation.
- The Jesus Prayer, the prayer of centering yourself within the total oneness of Christ.
- Physically position your body in a way to enable yourself to do deep breathing so you can let go and bring the mind into the heart.
- The feeling of inner warmth and perspiration, a true experience of “Total Divine Light.”
The Buddhists would call this experience “interconnectedness.”
When we find silence, God whispers to us. This doesn’t mean something miraculous will necessarily occur. For example, some might have a vision of the Virgin Mary, while others might experience a physical healing. But God can also be experienced in the ordinary.
A Benedictine monk named Bede Griffiths found God in a simple boyhood experience. One night while he was walking, the beautiful song of a flock of birds dazzled him. Their singing awakened senses he’d never known before. Instantly the world seemed transformed, he said, as if he’d had stepped into the presence of an almost unfathomable mystery, which seemed to be drawing him deeper within himself.
No burning bush, no burning chariots. Just a gentle, subtle awakening, a soft epiphany that could have easily been overlooked had he not been in a prayerful state. This experience changed Griffiths’ life forever. Are we, too, willing to be changed by the simple mystical beauty of Nature or a simple act of compassion that we witness by another human—or will it go unnoticed? To go into the Silence means to listen to God, and to go out of the Silence means to ‘BE’ what God spoke to you about.
A Perfect Song for This Time, “How Sweet the Silence” by Gino Vannelli
As a young musician at age eighteen, I encountered the work of singer, composer, and arranger Gino Vannelli on his album “Brother to Brother.” Since that time, Gino has been my favorite musician, singer, composer and arranger. “Brother to Brother” was just the beginning of his long career of versatile and endless creativity. Not only is Gino a wonderful musician, he is a deeply spiritual and loving person. Recently, he blessed us with a new song for the season, inspired by, as he writes, “a midnight stroll by tall cedars and pines and broad Silver Maples, shedding their orange and purple leaves”. As he watched and listened by the creek and the light of the moon, he “fell deep into the arms of Nature” and thought to himself, “how the voiceless speak loud and clear in the perfect silence…how every limb and blade of grass serve to give us comfort in times of trouble.” The following morning, the song was born.
Gino’s newest release, “How Sweet the Silence”, is his first ever Christmas single and a healing balm for our time. I suggest you read through the poetry of his lyrics a couple of times, and then enjoy them put to music. You can also download the song here.
As my friend Gino says: How sweet the Silence! May that Silence grant you comfort in our troubled times. Have a blessed* and joyous Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, and Christmas.
“May the Lord bless you
and keep you;
May the Lord make
His face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you.”
With love Donnie, Jen and family
*The difference between blessed and happy is that ‘blessed’ is having divine aid, protection, or other blessing, while ‘happy’ is experiencing the effect of favorable fortune; having the feeling arising from the consciousness of well-being or of enjoyment; enjoying good of any kind, as peace, tranquility, comfort; contented; joyous.
“Joy is prayer, Joy is strength, Joy is love. She who gives with joy gives most.” Mother Teresa