An old saying holds that silence means defeat. Still waters runs deep. Not everyone who stands sentinel keeps watch. Silence, some say, is a rude way to agree or disagree. But does it necessarily mean that when you are silent you have thrown in the towel? Suppose you find no question to evoke an answer from the ‘question’ you were asked? Suppose the situation and the circumstance does not require any response? Suppose you are deaf and dumb? Suppose you see no good reason why you should respond? All these are possible possibilities. Despite the various interpretations of silence, one thing remains constant; that, there is an immense power silence. Mahatma Gandhi said that Silence can move mountains. If he never said, then, he should have. Among the many historical personalities that are well renowned, Gandhi takes the best part of the reminiscence. His thoughtful utterances contained both the wisdom and a sense of deep reflection.
What is silence? What does it mean to be silent? What does it take to be silent? Is it meditation? Is it Yoga? Does it have anything to do with martial art and discipline of life?
Interestingly, if we take to the streets and pose these questions, we are sure to get varying answers; depending on the perspective from which each will look at it. Some might say that silence is that moment when you hold your tongue and utter no single word. Others, still, would say that silence is when you get cornered and the best option to go for is to remain silence. Suppose I pose the same questions to you. What would be your answers?
When we look at it from various angles, we can understand the scope and the power which is contained in the silence. If we look at the Biblical instances, we can appreciate the value of silence. ‘Be still and know that I am God’(Ps.46:11). This is an invitation for each one of us which is very vital and necessary. Unless you get still and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and mood offered by silence, we cannot know God. There so many voices around us which cannot let us hear the ‘small still voice’ (1 Kings 19:11-13) of God which Elijah heard. But what does it mean to silence ourselves? To keep quiet? To seek solitude? To retreat to remote places alone? To stick cotton wool in our ears? To give cold shoulders to those who turn to us for a hand? Nay. When Jesus Christ invited his disciples to ‘go in your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in Heaven…’ (Mt. 6:6), He meant that we should find silence within and dispose ourselves, silent enough to be able to hear the small still voice of God. It is very hard to hear the voice of God when our hearts are full of turmoil, commotion and in shambles. Unfortunately, the humanity today is so full of voices; from the scenes of politics to the wrangles in families. The ‘self-glorification’ has taken the central place of man’s endeavors. Is this silencing possible? Or should we wait to be silenced?
I have always admired the Sun. Due to our busy schedule and tight programs, we rarely take time and to reflect on and about nature. One of the ways through which God manifests Himself to His creation is through Creation. The very first creation that can reveal God to you is the very self. The very consciousness that feels itself is the first revelation of God in the very moment each morning. From there, if you are ‘a really integrated person’, you will realize the creation around you and this will cause a heave within that will automatically burst into a praise. If you are a truly silent person, then you will realize the interdependence of creation; one to the other. You will discover that we are individual creatures of one big creation. Then, just as St. Francis realized this secret, you will see each creation as a brother or sister. “Brother Sun and Sister Moon”, St. Francis would call out. An urge of care to and for the creation and among them fellow human beings will then arise deep within. You will embrace the exhortation of Pope Francis in his Encyclical, Laudato Si, a call to care for the environment since it reflects the face of God and as our home. You will care for your brother and sister regardless of the faith he or she professes or the ideologies which are held. The political orientations or the fact that they are conservatives or liberals will not create a barrier. It might cause differences but never should it cause divisions. It is acceptable to be different but not to be divided. With this richness deep seated in our hearts, then we will be agents of peace. Love would be our common denominator. Hatred and stereotyping will be purged from our lives. Radicals and extremists will not have place in our society. We will always go for the best; it should be our common goal.
Let us go back to the Sun. have you ever thought about the humility of the sun? Having so much power to destroy and to vivify? That there is a limitation which nothing can go beyond lest it gets destroyed if it goes towards the sun?
When the sun rises, or when looked scientifically, when our Earth rotates and we get the rays of the sun, numerous things happen. First of all, it marks the end of night and ushers in daytime. Then birds and the badgers come out of their nests to catch the first ray. It brings with it light, warmth and vitamins. The dew shyly melts away at its gaze; sunflowers stretches to hug it while we approximate the time with the shadows cast by its glorious rays.
Then, we wash and hung our clothes to dry, the warmth assist the seeds to germinate, the solar panels get a share too and every creature except nocturnes welcome it with a big smile.
As the day advances, then sun achieves so much and it passes hardly noticed. When it sets, the moon eagerly wait for its time to glory and illumine the night.
Through all these accomplishments, unlike thunders and mighty winds which make their presence felt and most of the time leave a trail of destruction, the sun passes quietly. So, humble yet effective. This is the key to silence.
When we embrace humility (which comes from a Latin word Humus which literally means ‘Earth or soil’), then we have the capacity to be silent. We come into terms with ourselves, with others and with God. We empty ourselves all that might have filled us and we create space for others. We go deep down in ourselves; the loneliest, longest and most dreaded journey which is rarely taken. We listen with humility to the voice of God within us which we call conscience. Unfortunately, many of us have killed this Voice. We accept its imbibes and act upon them accordingly. We, in return, experience a great deal of peace; both inner and outer. We become agents of this immense peace. We become eager to share it with others. We avoid situations and circumstances which might disturb this peace and when we look at the creation, we get a glimpse of peace with which God created the World; peace that have been distorted by our ideologies, discoveries and political malice and sabotages. God did not intend the world to have suffering, chaos or anything of such human-dignity-degradation outcome. This is not our culture. Never will it be.
Brethren, let us seek this solace, this silence and we will always stand sentinel to our values, our dignity and our Humanity. Peace, Love and Harmony.
© Kanogo Maina, 2016.