The power of silence?

caro_silenceLast night I drove out to get provisions and fill the car with fuel before our epic journey to Glasgow which starts tonight. We’re in Glasgow for Mary’s sisters wedding on Sunday, so wine, salty snacks and diesel were essentials for the journey. Fear not, I’ll stop driving before consuming the wine.

While in the car I caught the Radio 4 comedy programme ‘The Museum of Curiosity’ I’ve listened to it before and am a real fan of Bill Bailey.

This week had three guests, Alan Davies, John Gribbin and Martha Reeves. When Martha Reeves was introduced as a Theology Professor and Hermit, I was really fascinated to think of the career change she had taken. But was somewhat disappointed when I realised that the Martha Reeves I was listening to was not Martha Reeves as in ‘Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’, but Martha Reeves the Theologian and Hermit…. Never the less, her input into the programme was both fascinating and insightful

There were two quotes she gave in the programme, the second from Desmond Tutu “If governments knew how subversive silence was, it would be banned”

In the 13th and 14th centuries silence was taught at schools, it was believed that if you could practice silence you would be un-coercive. Another story from the programme came from Einstein’s early life, when he was disciplined at school. When his father enquired as to why, the teacher responded saying “He sits at the back of the class and smiles”

But… initially there was a quote from Robert Runcie, in which he was said to have said “The Church is like a swimming pool, all the noise is at the shallow end.”

I had two reactions to this quote, firstly I laughed and saw some of it’s truth, secondly I felt some disappointment, for two reasons:

1. It was somewhat damning of those ‘in the shallow end’ however that might be interpreted.

2. Those who were making noise were at least trying to communicate something.

I guess this goes back to understanding the difference between talking and being heard. I guess this is a difference which can only be learned through both humility and practice.

But… in a society full of inane chatter (wether the Jeremy Kyle show or Newsnight) this discipline seams harder and harder to practice but more urgent than ever.

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