life is poured out in useless words,
we will never
will never become anything,
in the end,
because we have said everything before
we had anything to say,
we shall be left speechless
at the moment of our greatest decision.
-- Thomas Merton, Thoughts in
"We have said everything before we
had anything to
Ever feel swamped by words? Words
on the Web, on the radio, on television, on billboards,
in books, in magazines, in emails, in every nook and
cranny. Yes, even in this e-resource!
As Barbara Brown Taylor suggests, we may
like the barrage of words because it helps bury the silence
we fear. Yet, those words, pouring forth like a
torrent to us and from us, pile up
dead around us. The word -- the Father's richest
gift to us -- has been sapped of its power to
create and restore, to sustain and renew.
Too much talk.
Scot McKnight tells us that Mother
Teresa's creed for life was simply this:
The fruit of silence is
The fruit of prayer is
The fruit of faith is love.
fruit of love is service.
The fruit of
service is peace.
It sounds simple enough. And
she believed that everything meaningful originated
first from a silence -- our silence before God. Not us
pouring out requests to Him; not us complaining; not us
excusing ourselves; not us talking, talking, talking.
But us listening -- in silence. Such attentiveness gives
the Father opportunity to speak real words,
life words, into us.
Some of us need background
noise for everything we do; study, housework, driving, eating,
even sleeping. True silence deafens us and threatens us.
Indeed, even when we pray in groups, we do our best to
avoid "awkward silences." We feel far more comfortable
praying together when someone is always speaking. Yet,
as we chat incessantly, how do we hear the
The discipline of silence, practised by Christians
throughout the ages, gives opportunity for the
Father to speak if He so desires. It
acknowledges that very often we have "said
everything before we had anything to say."
The power of words lies not in their
profusion, but in their profundity. In our hunger
to help others, we can forget this basic truth.
And profundity is never the product of our own wisdom,
but always the result of the Father's timing. Can we
speak less, and trust Him to take a small offering of five
sentences and two paragraphs and truly feed those in
May our Journey include not emptiness but
attentive silence, and thereafter not futility but
significance -- with our children, our spouses, our
friends, our neighbors, and Christ Himself.
In HOPE -