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The Joys of Silence

Posted by Susan Hines-Brigger on 10/29/19 7:00 AM

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on UnsplashRecently, when I turned my calendar over to November, I became painfully aware that the holiday season isn't far away. Where did the time go? Suddenly I will be rushing to cook, shop, and complete the million other tasks that seem to have become standard for a successful holiday.

But amidst my ever-growing list of things to do in the upcoming weeks, one thing was missing. It’s the one thing that always seems to be missing from that list: quiet.

Now with four kids, quiet is not something my husband, Mark, and I enjoy very often. Someone is always talking, fighting, singing or just generally making some sort of noise for the sake of, oh, just making noise. In fact, most days I feel as if “Will you be quiet?” are the only words that escape my mouth.With the upcoming holidays, the decibel level of our lives is going to be turned up even louder—thanks to things like raucous conversations over meals or at parties, Christmas carols, crowds in stores, even the sounds of the toys and gadgets that we’ll be buying as presents.

For some reason, society has decided that stepping off the crazy carousel of life and being quiet is a bad thing. Sadly, most of us have bought into this. In fact, sometimes it seems as though we walk around with our phones and music players permanently attached to our ears. But it doesn’t have to always be that way. Yes, being quiet is not a bad thing, says this introvert. Do you hear that, kids? Do you hear that, world? It’s O.K. sometimes to just be silent. So here are some suggestions for ways to reclaim some quiet in your life this holiday season. Give them a try. You just might find you like the quiet.

Go to church. I personally think there is no better place to escape the noise of the world than church. I’m not talking about Mass times, but rather those times when no one else is in the church but you and God. It’s the type of quiet that compels you to stop and really reflect on things a little deeper than what you’re going to have for dinner that evening.

Make silence a priority. Just as we work hard to schedule time for exercise and friends, we should make an effort to schedule a bit of a checkout from all the noise of life—and this holiday season.

Just do it. When I was growing up, I remember that my dad used to always sit in the kitchen at night with only the light over the sink turned on. I always wondered why he did that. But now that I’m a parent myself, I think I have a pretty good idea. After he worked all day and came home to the chaos of dinner, activities and homework, those quiet moments in the dark probably provided him with time to decompress and reflect. At the time, it seemed odd to me. Now it seems brilliant. Get up early or stay up late and soak in the sounds of silence. Another opportunity to do this is in the car. Instead of listening to the radio or talking on the phone while you’re driving, drive in silence.

Embrace the noise. Now I know this may seem counterintuitive to what I’ve been saying. But sometimes amidst the chaos of life, it occurs to me that someday my kids will be grown and there will be no more calls for “mom” coming from their rooms in the middle of the night. So when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the chaos and noise surrounding me at home, I try to remind myself of this reality and soak it in rather than wish it away.

The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life

Topics: family, silence, the way of silence, Family Issues, Centering Prayer