Silence is Language.

Below is an essay I wrote for my Leadership class. The assignment comes as a part of PBS and NPR’s airing of the ‘This I Believe’ radio project. I had a lot of fun writing it. Clearly this is not a full exposition of everything I believe. But finding rest in silence and resting in feeling God’s presence is definitely an aspect of life I return to again and again. Hopefully it resonates with you. If not, what do you believe in? What do you rest in?

Love, Shannon.

This I believe.

I believe in the profound complexity of silence.

I embrace early mornings, I like waking to tendrils of sunlight. I sip dark coffee, slurp a bowl of cereal and await the beeps of alarms and roar of hairdryers signaling my housemates’ awakening. I pray for a hushed quiet as I open my Bible to read, allowing what is unsaid and unheard to be whispered in the pre-day stillness. I believe that truth is held suspended around me, waiting for my soul to be made aware of its pregnant stillness. This quiet holds the dimensions of a place beyond the present, dimensions which will never be fully grasped, held or measured. But I believe in them.

Silence may seem too existential to believe in – and maybe it is – but it is a truth I’ve returned to again and again in times of doubt. I’ve had my days of not believing in a God. I’ve grimaced at the harsh screams of malnutrition on television, sexual abuse in the news and even ill-intentioned friendships in my life. But this I can say for certain: I know God exists not through these jolting shrieks of unjustifiable circumstances, but through the strength and constancy I feel present in the silence.

I believe in the simple beating, mixing, churning of butter and sugar in a warm kitchen. The simplicity of movement calms my soul. I feel Him comforting me.

I believe in the quick ins-and-outs of breath on a long run to center my thoughts. Cars speed past, people cross my path to greet friends. And in my rhythmic motions, my mind quietly observes the busyness of this world. In that silence, I hear him watching over each of us.

I believe in the fluid movement of eyes across pages of impossibly long books. Silence is necessary for reading; It must be attended to; It must be heard. When my eyes lift from the page, struck anew by philosophical possibilities, I’m made aware of His power.

I believe in the beauty of friends, of secrets and inside jokes. I believe in friendship’s ability to strengthen my ties to the tangible, to tie me down to reality and fill me with the joy of laughter. I know He loves us by our love for each other.

I believe in the ability of music to lift my spirits. But I also believe in music’s ability to obscure reality. I don’t often hear Him there.

Silence is necessary for human communication. Long-drawn awkward silences with strangers, with grandparents or even close friends speak volumes. Silence says “I’m mad, I hate you.” It says “I love you, there are no words.” Silence says, “I’m so sorry. I wish I could take back my words.” It says, “I’m crying, I cannot use words.”

Silence says, “I am here. I am around you and yet beyond you.”

Silence reminds me that I know so little about wide-open expanses, unreachable ocean depths and floating galaxies. Silence reminds me to trust in something unseen.

I believe silence is the language of God.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Silence is Language.

  1. i ENJOY YOUR POSTS VERY MUCH. i CONCUR WITH YOUR THOUGHTS IN THIS MOST RECENT POST. AS I GET OLDER, I TOO QUESTION GODS PRESENCE. THIS PAST MONTH I HAVE HAD TO SAY GOODBY TO MY BEST FRIEND AND MY DEAR SISTER AND KNOW THAT GOD IN INDEED REAL. HE TOCHED MY HEART IN BOTH CASES AND ASSURED ME THAT THERE IS SOMETHING BEYOND DEATH. I AM SO PLEASED THAT YOU HAVE DISCOVERED THIS AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE AND WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE MANY YEARS AHEAD.

    ALL MY LOVE
    PAPA

    • shanspain

      Papa, SO GLAD to hear from you — and so glad to hear that you’re keeping up with my blog. I love that you can relate. Mom showed me your most recent car accident and I am sure you’re coming to grips with God’s hand in your life. What a miracle! Lots of xoxo’s to you and Grandma Shirley.

      Love,
      Shannon

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