So, how busy are you today? I wonder something. I wonder what a future archaeologist would say about our society a couple of centuries from now. There she is in her floating laboratory. Can you see her? She is conducting research on 21st-century daily life. Since it is the future, information is readily available. She is research these social media platforms called Facebook and Twitter. She is scratching her head because there are a couple of things that puzzle her. First of all, did people in this century speak in a coded language? Post after post used abbreviations that only seem to make sense to the sender. Also, what is it with the nauseating use of the # sign? Was humanity a deeply math-oriented society? Second, did people in this century ever catch a break? As she scrolls through page after page of status updates, she comes to the conclusion that humanity was rest-less, that we did not need times to relax and recharge our batteries. (If I’m correct, you should be nodding your head here J.)
In his powerful yet small book Telling the Truth, Frederick Buechner writes, “Before the Gospel is a word, it is silence. It is the silence of their own lives and of his life. It is life with the sound turned off so that for a moment or two you can experience it not in terms of the words you make it bearable by but for the unutterable mystery that it is.” There is something profound here. As I mentioned in my March 29 homily for Holy Saturday, there are times when all we can do is be still. There is nothing to say in those moments. Unfortunately, we find those moment almost torturous. Join me in a quick experiment: Find a place where you can be alone for just a few moments. Got it? Now, shut off all noise. Shut off your phone, iPad, computer, television, game system, even the lights. Sit in total silence and darkness. If you’re like most people, a couple of things probably happened. First, you could only make it a few seconds before that uncomfortable feeling set in. Second, silence was almost immediately replaced with humming in your ears because your body is adjusting to the lack of stimulation. The point is, however, that silence is difficult.
Yet, we need silence. As Buechner noted, the Gospel is silence before it is spoken. Pain comes before pleasure; sin before salvation; reality before reconciliation. Yet there is a place theologically for silence in our lives. It is in silence that we best hear the voice of God. Remember the words of the Psalmist, “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). We need silence in order to hear directions. We need silence in order to get our bearings. We need silence in order to live loudly for God. Today, I encourage you to take a moment, stop with your status updates, and be still in God’s presence.
Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale (New York: HarperCollins, 1977), 23.