April 2021

I’ve always been aware of the silence, not the hollowness of it nor the mere lack of noise, but the knowing that sound is missing. I do not like drifting off to sleep in silence. The silence is disquieting and I would rather turn on a television so I can listen to the voices until I am overtaken by sleep. But I am not afraid of the quiet. The kind of moment where we can sit with our thoughts and sip tea. The gentleness of a moment, the joy of my peace. We find that quiet when we meditate and listen for the Holy Spirit. Where we pray and wait for an answer. This quiet, it does not make me anxious.

Research suggests that our brain might protect us from some of the painful things in our lives. It suggests that, extremely stressful experiences in children can alter brain development. Stress, they say can have lifelong impact on children’s health and behavior. Perhaps it keeps us silent. Silence is stressful. Stress can affect resilience.

I think of the silence of my childhood and it conjures up fretful memories full  of aloneness, and the absence of talking. And there was a lot of it. I grew up in an era of “be seen but not heard”, where children were relegated to the kitchen or outside while adults talk amongst themselves. And if children were demanded to speak, it was more likely those parents would let the belt do the talking to them. One could be punished for talking too much, for not remaining silent. I wonder what else has the silence of my childhood left in me? Imagination? Free from worry? Relentless self restraint? Or the condemnation for unknowing deeds, tucked deep inside the solitude of my quiet?