We live in a busy, bustling and noisy world. Ever since the industrial revolution and the explosion of commerce and industry, we have learned to make more and more noise. To the point, we get uncomfortable as my friend Marika pointed out. We get so used to the background chatter and noise, that when it disappears we feel lost. But should we?
Silence when not permanent, is as need as the darkness at night. At night we need to relax. We need the lack of visual stimuli (in the form of the lack of light) to properly function. Our eyes relax, recalibrate themselves. Our brains go into organization mode and sort out the events of our day. Silence lets us to look into ourselves and shut away the noise in our life. Should one fear silence like one fears the absence of light, when all you need to do is speak or flick a switch to bring back sound or light? Silence can be oppressive and harsh. Sitting in a room with a stranger can be hard. Your mind tries to figure the stranger’s thoughts and intentions. Sitting in a room with a friend, who you deeply trust is different. In this case, you share a delicate, intimate and vulnerable moment of introspection where you both trust each other enough to let your guard down.
Learning to accept and embrace silence is difficult. I learned to start to accept silence two years ago I went on a Taize retreat in Montreal. I remember sitting on the floor of an ancient-looking church. All around me hundreds of other people sat around me. Between each hymn we sung, we sat in silence. People, strangers from different Christian denominations all sitting in silence in a church. At first the moments of silence felt oppressive, alien, cold and unwelcoming. But after each hymn belted out at the top of our lungs, the silence become welcome. Silence became a time of peace, relaxation and reflection upon the reason on why we had all gathered here. We came together to be friends and neighbours. And to come a step closer to be closer to God. Ever since I tried to set aside a time for silence, for prayer and for reflection. It is still something I struggle and wrestle with.
Today, I’ll be going to a Latin Tridentine mass held at the Newman Centre at Uof T. From what I’ve been told the experience of attending such a mass is very uplifting. One reasons why are the moments of total silence and solemnity in it.