The Importance of Silence
I have always been inspired by Mother Teresa, and find much wisdom and inspiration for the family in her quotes about love and prayer. With her recent canonization in the news, I wanted to reflect on a quote of hers that has special meaning for me:
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” -St. Teresa of Calcutta
Isn’t that what we are trying to do as parents, to touch souls? Perhaps our efforts at formation of our children would be more fruitful if we set aside some time for silence in our lives, and allow Him to form us first.
I remember when the children were small, and I wanted to have some quiet prayer time before they arose. But to get down our creaky stairs without waking them required a careful, contortion-like descent as I carefully placed my steps to avoid making a sound. I used to have to stifle my laughter as I imagined I looked like a character in some James Bond movie avoiding the laser beams while trying to steal the crown jewels! One wrong move, and I would hear the “footy pajama stampede.” The risk was great, but the reward was even greater!
Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not, and on occasion I was not only awake at 5:00 AM, but now on duty as well before any prayers had been said or coffee made! On those mornings, I would have to throw up a “catch you later” prayer, as I snuggled up with a fresh-faced cherub who wanted some one-on-one time.
In those days of having little kids, I realized that silent prayer time would be “hit or miss” depending on a variety of factors, including how fatigued I was. It had to be an even-handed endeavor, since nobody wanted a grouchy Mom.
But as they got older, and slept more soundly, I found my quiet time with the Lord more consistently, and it was so fulfilling! I would simply sit in silence and keep company with Him in the early hours. By opening my heart and mind to Him, I could more easily understand and know how best to serve the others in the family.
Each difficult situation, each member of the family was brought to Him in this time, not through words, but in quiet communion. I understood that He already knew everything on my heart, all my faults and failings, and He received it all and gave me quiet assurance of His love and concern. It was in silence that I learned to trust Him. And rather than worrying about my lack of sleep, I found that I was energized for whatever the day would bring.
There is a peace in silence and a fruitfulness in prayer that is hard to explain, and simply must be experienced to believe. We have to get past the “strangeness” of sitting quietly in His presence, because our lives are full of so much noise.
I like to think of it this way…If someone promised to pay all your bills for the rest of your life, would you be interested? And the one catch was that you had to meet him every morning to get the cash. Would that be too great a price to pay? Well, I cannot speak for you, but I would somehow find time to meet this generous benefactor!
And yet, a similar correlation exists in the spiritual life. God does make promises that, if we truly think about it, are irresistible!
If He promised to guide you in all the really important decisions that you had to make in life…if He promised to fill you with the grace needed to guide those souls in your care…if He promised a deep and special relationship with Him, and all you had to give in return was some time in silent prayer…wouldn’t you?
Mother Teresa’s words remind me of the faithfulness of His promises and the importance of meeting my dear Friend for some silent time each day, and of the beautiful fruits that will come to our family because of it.