Lasha Morningstar


March 23, 2015

Silence. That is one powerful word.

When there is not a vestige of a sound, brain cells dance the synapse of thoughts, whirling through one's mind, opening secret doors, letting answers and truth fly out.

Sometimes it can be joyful. Sometimes one staggers with pain.

Silence is hard to come by in this clattering world. But oh is it precious.

Let Pope Francis explain. In one of his succinct Wednesday talks to the general audience in St. Peter's Square, he told of God's demand for mystery and quiet.

"Silence is really the cloud that covers the mystery of our relationship with the Lord, our holiness and our sins. We cannot explain this mystery but where there is not silence in our lives, the mystery is lost; it goes away. Guard the mystery with silence."

Now that is one mighty request.

No matter what the time or day, city or countryside, there is always a roaring siren somewhere, a pickup truck ripping down the country road, a family feud squalling over a dinner table.

Some of these noises are life-saving. Like the ambulance hurtling through the traffic to take a heart attack victim to the hospital.

But too many are not.

Like that family fight. As my beloved Thomas Merton in his journal The Sign of Jonas said, "The silence of God should teach us when to speak and when not to speak."

Another thought of his that speaks to my soul comes from No Man Is An Island: "If you go into solitude with a silent heart, the silence of creation will speak louder than the tongues of men or angels."

Father Mychal Judge, former chaplain of the New York Fire Department, found his silence in prayer. "When I don't know what's next, I get down on my knees and pray, 'Lord, take me, mould me, fashion me. Show me what you want.' Then I watch and listen and it will come."

Such faith. He knew when the Lord was directing him.

That's where I often stumble.

Usually it is when someone is telling an out-and-out lie and I don't dare sputter, "But that's not true."

That, I think, is when I am going to invoke the power of these men of faith. That is when I am going to be silent.

It will be hard. You know the feeling when you wake up at 2 a.m. and think, "I should have said . . ."

This is the part where I am supposed to say I will forgive them. Sorry. I will however let it go and say, "Over to you God."

I'll also give them a wide berth. Life is too short to put yourself in front of a nasty deceiver.

Silence is delicious. When it happens, it gives the freedom to search for one's own truth.

Do you really want to live in this city? Do you really want to do the work that you do? Do you allow gratitude to wash over you when you realize what we have compared to so many other people on the globe? Do you have the wisdom to keep your thoughts and plans to yourself?

I used to think that others would be happy and pleased for me when something good happened to me. Surprise. Sometimes yes. Most of the time, no. So my mouth shall be shut unless absolutely necessary.

Stop and listen

My most precious silence comes though when all of my surroundings are quiet and I can talk to God. Sometimes, I have so much to say that I forget to stop and listen. When I catch myself doing that, I apologize and feel shame, wondering what I had missed.

I do know now that I have too often missed the sound, power and sacredness of silence. Silence is a great gift from God.

Lasha Morningstar