The Scarcity of Silence
[I] read an interesting take on the value of silence in a book a few months back and I have been continuing to process it since then. Alan Jacobs wrote about an idea that I had never thought much about before:
“Solitude may be more accessible for modern Westerners than for anyone else in history, but it would be perverse to say that we have too much of it.”I’ve never stopped to reflect much on the first point of this sentence, but as soon as I thought back to my experiences in traveling I immediately agreed with it. The last country I traveled to was Egypt and I remember telling my wife how quiet it was when I got home. Between the noise of the city and the continual calls to prayer (even through the night), you get used to constant noise. What we easily forget is the luxury of available silence in our lives. But are we making the most of it? Are we taking advantage of that luxury and using it well? As Americans we can easily forget that not everyone has it. In fact, depending on where you live you may experience different degrees of it. Our availability of silence decreases for those living in large families, or in apartment complexes, or even in the downtown of a city. Despite that, most of us have places we can go to find silence. It may be a library, a park, or just going for a drive away from the commotion. Most of us don’t want to live in perpetual silence but we can easily forget the benefits that having silence at our disposal allows us. It can help you to gather your thoughts, to catch your breath, or to better hear the Voice of God. Make a note to enjoy a time of silence soon. It is a gift, and a luxury, and it may not always be there.
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