December 11 2017

By: Jackie Hook
Monday, December 11, 2017

I continue with my thoughts about Silence. What Does It Teach Us?

In the Christian tradition, John of the Cross said, “Silence is God’s first language.” There is a power to silence. In my roles as a celebrant and spiritual director, I sit with people to hear the stories of their lost loved ones’ lives as we create an honoring ritual for them. I sit with others and hear them processing their journeys through grief after loss, sharing their spiritual life and longings, and musings about aging. I watch them intently as they share. At those times when there is quiet, it is very apparent when it is silence with significant meaning, not just a pause of not knowing what to say next. We can sit in that silence for some time. When they eventually turn their gaze towards me, I ask the next question. These people are not even aware of how long we’ve been in silence. Much is going on for them.

Parker Palmer, a writer, speaker, and activist, also appreciates the power of silence. In his work to create Circles of Trust -- safe gatherings for sharing -- one of his touchstones is, “Trust and learn from the silence. Silence is a gift in our noisy world, and a way of knowing in itself. Treat silence as a member of the group. After someone has spoken, take time to reflect without immediately filling the space with words.”

I have come to love silence – it feels spacious, free, peaceful, healing and loving. However, this was not always the case.  I remember the silence of first living alone after college – I often filled it with background noise. Not today. Now I leave it as it is, silent, and I’m drawn to it.

(First printed in the 2017 Fall Issue of Centered Magazine)

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

October 18 2021

Sometimes memories of our loved ones are painful. Perhaps the manner of their death, disagreements we had or unfinished conversations to name a few. Mental health providers are a great resource to ...

October 11 2021

As we continue our conversation about cherishing memories, my work provides me with the gift of hearing many cherished memories. I’ve shared many spaces with people grieving loved ones and when the...

October 4 2021

This month our theme is “Cherishing Memories.” Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., considers remembering the person who died as one of the needs of mourners. You move from a relationship of presence to a relation...

September 27 2021

As we close out this month’s discussion of “Mustering Courage in Loss,” I invite you do as poet John O’Donohue suggests and engage the danger and the wildness in your own heart, even when your hear...

September 20 2021

I really appreciate this line from poet Alice Mackenzie Swaim, “Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” That is what it take...

September 13 2021

As we talk more about mustering courage in loss, let’s begin with the etymology of the words muster and courage. According to https://www.etymonline.com, the word muster means, "to display, reveal,...

September 6 2021

This month our theme is “Mustering Courage in Loss.” This is a very appropriate theme as we honor the 20th anniversary of 9-11. Koch Funeral Home was working with Alpha Fire Company to hold a Remem...

August 30 2021

For our final “Life with Tears and Laughter” themed post this month, I offer the poem, “The Guest House,” by Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, scholar, theologian and Sufi mystic. This being huma...

August 23 2021

People often ask me how I take care of myself since my work involves life with tears and laughter. One of the things I do is allow myself to freely express my tears and laughter. I’ve learned that ...

August 16 2021

Now let’s look at the laughter portion of our theme, “Life with Tears and Laughter.” Research has shown that laughter is healthy for us emotionally, physically and socially. (Please read the July G...