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Too noisy to listen, too silent to speak

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My life is filled with noise. With preschoolers whose running and laughter floods our home to the calls, plans and conversations that shape daily ministry and the constant beckoning of a fully connected phone, silence can be elusive. It is part of what made the words, “you are to stay in Le Puits, ‘the well,’” all the more surprising.

This last month I participated in the Global Christian Forum (GCF) (, a movement of representatives from diverse churches “to foster mutual respect and to address common challenges together.” This particular meeting of the GCF was held at the Taize community (, an ecumenical Christian monastic community in Taize, France. Founded in 1940 they have become known for their outreach to young men and women. More than 100,000 youth complete an annual pilgrimage to this home for 100 brothers.

At Taize, silence is part of the daily rhythm. Each of three daily services includes 10 minutes of silent contemplation. Le Puits, the accommodation to which I was assigned, is the designated silent building where residents rise and sleep and live out their day in complete silence.

For the unpracticed such as me, silence can be loud at first. It sometimes requires great intentionality to submit to the discipline of quieting the mind to listen for the still small voice of God (1 Kings 19:9-13). As Henri Nouwen writes in Bringing Solitude into Our Lives:

Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen. A spiritual discipline sets us free to pray or, to say it better, allows the Spirit of God to pray in us.

Silence can be a powerful encounter. It has left me wondering to what extent I use noise as a crutch to avoid standing honest and vulnerable before our Creator. I write as one under conviction that my own spiritual life is a journey. There remains opportunity for me to strengthen the steps I take to drink deeply from the well of Jesus Christ.

A question has been pulling at the edges of my thoughts these last few weeks. How should we as Christians break free from the double silence that seems to bind so many?

The noise of the world, if we allow it, creates a spiritual silence in our personal lives. Having yielded our spiritual attuning, we sit in silence before the injustices that break the heart of God.

For surely both can be a kind of temptation. A temptation to not find the space in which we can listen to the voice of the Lord; a temptation to sit in silence when the Gospel of Peace offers a word of hope to those without Christ and to those suffering in injustice.

We sometimes choose the wrong silence. We choose silence where we should speak and noise where we should listen. Please join with me in praying this prayer anew:

Lord, give me the joy to sit in silence before you and where injustice would prefer silence, the courage to speak.



  • Guest
    Jenni Entrican Friday, 02 March 2018

    Such an important word Elijah. Thank you.

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Guest Friday, 28 February 2020