The power of silence

A Christian Science perspective.

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Walking fairly deep into the woods, my family and I realized how many beautiful things there were to look at. We saw uprooted tree trunks, tiny sprouts of wintergreen, light green moss protected from the bright sun, and little holes in the forest floor that must have been hide-outs for chipmunks and squirrels.

Then, for almost no reason, we all became very quiet as we moved more slowly along the path. We suddenly realized how silent it was. We had stopped talking, stopped commenting on all the beautiful things we were seeing. The silence added a dimension that we hadn’t experienced at the house and along the road. The quiet was an invisible frame that enhanced everything we were looking at.

Few people live so deep in the quiet, forest primeval. Whether one lives in a busy metropolitan area, in a totally rural setting, or on a ship at sea, there are sounds rising and falling almost all the time – traffic, airplanes, or cowbells in the field and by the fence.

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That silence is precious, yet we can still hear things even in the silence. There is peace, calm, and an even greater awareness of the good that is around us. Some of the great thinkers of the world need that peace to listen to new ideas and gain fresh inspiration. The great inventor Thomas Edison sometimes fished without bait on his hook. One of his biographers wrote, “Edison was not interested in catching fish; he was after time to think.” As he sat at the end of his dock with a line in the water, no one (and no fish) would bother him (James D. Newton, “Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh,” p. 18).

Students of the Bible are familiar with the value and importance of silence – not only outward peace and quiet, but mental peace and quiet. A comforting verse for many Bible students is this one from Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (46:10). Learning to be still brings unfoldment of ideas, inspiration, and a reassurance of God’s presence and comfort. The next verse continues, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Because God is Love and overflowing with comfort, it’s impossible to listen for God’s presence without gaining something wholly good, refreshing, and healing.

You don’t have to slip into the woods or cover your ears to be still and listen. Not everyone can go off by themselves for a few minutes if they’re in a busy office situation, crowded downtown street, or a theatrical performance. Right where we are, though, we can enlist ourselves to “be still, and know that I am God.” We can say, “Silence!” to the noisy thoughts surrounding us. We can find precious silence and peace of mind right in the middle of physical or mental commotion.

Each of us has spiritual sense – a divine capacity to detect, listen, hear, and feel the presence of God no matter where we are or what we are doing. It often requires mental discipline, but we can turn to and become aware of God’s presence and goodness at any moment.

God’s love is always present. His messages of love and harmony are always in broadcast mode. Right divine ideas are always available to seek and access. Christ Jesus showed through his example that the Christ, Truth – the spiritual truth of God and man – was always intimately near. He could turn to and experience it, whether he was in a crowded marketplace or aboard a ship on the stormy Sea of Galilee

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote: “In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God’s allness” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 15).

How do we really hear? With the physical ear or the spiritual heart? Whether we’re surrounded by sounds, or deep in the quiet of the forest, we can always turn to God, divine Love, and hear His messages that bring inspiration and comfort “in the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings.”

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