This morning, our adult formation class had a session on "silence" and it's place in our relationship with God. I got there late so missed about half of the discussion, so where I go here from there probably has little to do with this morning's session except to say that it got me thinking about this topic all day.
One thing that came to mind and has colored my thoughts is a story a friend told me years ago. I forget the details except to say there had been some ugly family stuff and in the midst of the resultant turmoil, a matriarch of the family cried, "Peace! Peace!" Someone answered her, "You don't want peace, you want silence."
Silence and peace. I've been thinking all day about the ways these are used interchangeably and the ways they are not the same. In this morning's discussion I heard people talk about how hard it is for them to keep silence---a silent retreat is torture for them. I heard other people talking about how they need peace and quiet. I heard Sting singing in my head, "you may win this coming battle, but could you tolerate the peace," realizing that it had only tangential relation to our conversation.
It did remind me that we speak of war and peace, not war and silence.
And how the phrase "peace and quiet" is either one of the most used redundancies in our language or they're two different things. We also don't say "peace and silence." Or "silence and quiet."
Also: John Cage did his best to tell us that there's no such thing as silence.
How easily my mind rambles and wanders.
For LGBT people of a certain age, "SILENCE = DEATH" stickers bring dark memories.
There is at least one story from the Desert Fathers that comes to mind wherein an Abba keeps silence to preserve a murderer's life.
If I have a point here, it's that silence and peace have subtle differences. People in the middle of chaos can speak of having peace, while some people keeping silence find no peace at all but turmoil.
Everything casts a shadow, it seems.
So I end with two related question, ones I hope to ponder (without hope of having all the answers) for some days to come:
Where do you find yourself in silence? And are you at peace with that silence?
Well, I'll add a third: Where is God in your silence and in your peace?