I was deeply saddened when I heard the news that the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and other diplomats were killed. The unrest throughout the Middle East, global poverty and disease, the escalation of climate change, unemployment and worldwide market uncertainty, fundamentalists here and abroad are both disturbing and distressing. And then we all have our own daily struggles, uncertainties, and life upsets. It’s easy to become unmoored because of the complexity, magnitude, or sheer volume of issues confronted us.
Whether we utilize spiritual practices or aren’t familiar with them at all, one practice that I’ve begun to included in my daily routine is a moment of silence. Most of us are familiar with a moment of silence because it is frequently used when publicly commemorating someone who has died or acknowledging a tragic event. It allows all participating to use that moment of silence in whatever way best suits them: be still, pause, meditate, pray. It’s not cluttered with words or useless platitudes. It’s simple. It transcends cultures and languages. It’s individual.
Prayer is different than is moment of silence. Prayer is active. Informal prayer is a conversation with God. I share with God whatever is on my heart or bothering me. Sometimes I speak out loud. Sometimes I converse in my head. Often I write out what comes to me, much like a journal entry. Formal prayer is reading or reciting specific prayers from a worship tradition. The familiarity of formal prayers can serve as a catalyst for reflection. Prayer engages us differently than silence.
A moment of silence is just that, silence. It’s hard to be silent because our natural tendency is to fill that silent space with something. For me, the point of silence is to listen. When I’m listening, I’m not talking. When I’m listening, I’m not thinking or planning. When I’m listening, I hear.
Politicians aren’t the only ones who exercise rhetoric. We exercise rhetoric with ourselves. When we take a moment of silence, we stop the internal rhetoric. We give ourselves the opportunity to step back and take a breath. We move into a place of calm, where we can center ourselves and secure the anchor to that which keeps us moored.
Why not try a moment of silence for one week. Set aside the same time everyday as your moment of silence. You might need to set an alert to remind you. Then be silent for at least two minutes. I’d love to know how it goes for you.