I used to hate the sound of nothing at all. This distinct sound made me feel alone, scared, even vulnerable at times. If there was presence of silence, I only recognized it in the sense that something was missing, that that silence must have just stood for a void in the moment, in my life. The sound of nothing at all meant nothing but the emptiness of life and I feared my life would reflect that sound.
Growing up meant realizing many of the silly traits that children have, many of which are fears. Growing up meant realizing that I was not afraid of silence or what may fill it, but of a lack of something, a void in time and situation. What I feared was not what may fill the silence, but what may be missing from it.
When I was a junior in high school I participated in a Kairos retreat. It is a spiritual retreat where time is taken away and you are allowed to become your full and true self. During this retreat we were sent off for a time of silence in which we could not speak to each other for about one hour. I had always loved to talk, loved to make noise and listen to it, but suddenly I was in a room with 60 people and the only sound I could hear was my own thoughts. I was scared of my own thoughts, of what my mind wandered to, and often times I still am.
Silence meant having to listen to myself and my heart but they were so unclear. I wanted to fill the silence with anything I could. Suddenly however, my head went silent and my heart rate slowed. I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace within me, that I am not sure I will ever experience. I realized that the silence forced upon me had been to give me this moment of peace. To find the serenity of the moment, to come to peace with the words in my head and thoughts in my heart.
How would I fill the rest of the silence in my life? How would I avoid missing out on things when there was no sound to be heard? What would I do if I was the one responsible for making something of the silence? It was then that I realized that the silence in my head and in my heart were for my own taking. They were purely intended for me to interpret and to make something go them. When God hands you a blank canvas, you create something beautiful.
I have always looked up to Helen Keller as an inspiration. She lived in darkness and in silence, yet saw and heard more than I ever will. She once stated, "Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content."
I cherish my moment of silence today. As I sit in my kitchen with tea in my hand typing this article. Nothing around me makes noise except for the clicking of my keyboard. Nothing is there to distract me from my writing, or from my thoughts as they flow. The silence makes me calm and slows the world around me. Today I am at peace. Silence is not the absence of sound, but the presence of something much greater.