I have often introduced my Higher Power as Silence. There is a lot of power in Silence. Solomon Ibn Gabriol once said that The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening…
Listening and silence go together magnificently. In fact, the letters used in the word silent are the same letters in listen. The greatest teachers, preachers, heads of state, were masters at being silent. When they spoke people listened. They knew that what was said would be thoughts on which they could learn and grow.
Presently, I have a job that will carry me into retirement. If you let it, the job can be physically demanding. No matter how you do the work it will be exhausting. So it ends up being a question of do you do the job or does the job do you?
30 years ago I had the same duty at another job and my supervisor taught me a simple way of making a physically demanding job and easy doable experience. It’s a job that takes place during the cold winter months, so last winter I explained to some co-workers how to do the job quicker as well as easier.
Now that a new winter season is approaching, one rather windy co-worker is already, for lack of a better word, whining about it. He is saying how we don’t have the time to do it all. That it could take 2-3 hours to do it all. I said that it can be done in a half-hour if done the way I suggested and in fact I know it takes a half-hour because I did it last winter.
As I mentioned this person is rather windy. He loves to talk, yet struggles to listen. Why should I repeat what I said last winter when silence is not observed and ultimately wisdom can’t be obtained?
Not just with this person but anyone who can’t give me the same respect I give them by being silent I have walked away from. There is nothing as frustrating when you are verbally sharing with someone and they cut you off in mid-sentence. They act as though they know what you want to say, so they quit listening, abandoning silence, and begin pushing you away by giving their thoughts without acknowledging yours. Making your opinion, your voice, worth less than theirs.
In the old times before the white man came to America, the Native American Indians had a wonderful way of solving disputes between tribes. The five tribes would sit in a teepee and one chief would voice his concerns, needs, and wishes. After he was finished the chief sitting next to him would say what the first chief said. Then the next chief would say what he heard. They would do his until it got around the circle and back to the original chief and he would say that the others understood or go into more detail with what he said and meant. They would continue to go around this way until the original chief was convinced that the four other chiefs understood exactly what he said.
Then the second chief would voice his concerns, needs, and wishes. Once again the other chiefs would say what they heard. Again it would make it back to the chief that started the discussion and he would say that the others understood or he would explain further. After he was happy with what the others said, it would go to the third chief, and so on, until all chiefs were heard and understood. It was because of this unique way of listening and understanding that the Iroquois Nation was conceived.
With sobriety, I started a new life and was told by more than one person to find a Higher Power to help guide my journey. It was refreshing to look at this without thoughts of religion. This Higher Power would be mine, just mine for this realm of existence.
My first spiritual counsellor asked me about prayer. He asked me do I pray? How often do I pray? My answer was that I didn’t pray but I was willing to start if it would help me stay sober. I prayed with the prayers I learned as a child. The Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and from recovery, The Serenity Prayer.
As my foundation in recovery strengthened I added prayers from AA – The Third Step Prayer and The Seventh Step Prayer, as well as The Slave’s Prayer. Then it evolved to talking to my Higher Power, sharing my thoughts and feelings about my day.
By personalizing my prayers, I began to wonder what was my Higher Power’s name. First, it was Trust. After all, this Power that had become a strong force in my life was the first Being who I could totally Trust.
In time the name changed to Love. With Trust came Love. 100% total and unconditional Love. Like Trust, this was something I had never experienced in my life. Yes, I was loved, but with conditions. As a child, I was loved if I got good grades, or kept the family secrets, or never brought shame to the family name. Then I was hated, ignored, and abused.
This Higher Power, Love, taught me that I was given the greatest gift – choice. While some of my choices in the past, may not have been healthy, I was still Loved. It was an acceptance that made me want to make healthier choices. With this new revelation I began to see Love as my best Friend. A friend who would never leave me.
As a friend I began to see that I was mistreating Love. While I was doing all the talking Love remained silent. Love never complained and waited for me to make a new choice. A choice to listen instead of speak. It was then that Love evolved into Silence. It was then that we began to share wisdom. To paraphrase Matthew 13:13, “For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.” We can see, listen, and understand through Silence.
When Silence became part of my life my prayers changed. Many nights, instead of speaking, I’d just listen. Hi Silence, then for the next half-hour, hour, two hours, I’d listen to the Silence. I’d just lay still with my eyes closed, keeping my mind focused just on the Silence. Not waiting for anything in particular, just enjoying my communion with Silence.
Try it sometime. Listen to the Silence. Turn off the TV, the radio, and the phone. Just you and Silence. Get back in touch with the real you, the original you, that can only be found in Silence.
When you become one with Silence, you become a better friend, a better co-worker, a better employee (or employer), a better sibling, or a better spouse. All because Silence has taught you how to listen.