During Lent, we are all called to go out into the desert with Jesus and this ‘going out’ means we must leave something behind! In part, this means leaving behind, not only our sin to explore a new world of holiness or ‘wholeness’ as I like to describe it, but it also means changing up the usual routine of our daily life in order to heighten our awareness of God without and within. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit or explore a desert, one huge thing you will discover is that when you are away far enough from civilization and all the busy noise and traffic, you discover what I call, “desert silence.” Now this desert silence is not a silence devoid of all noise, no, it’s just that even the smallest of sounds are noticed and heard, for example the sound of a cricket or the crunch of dried leaves underfoot or the slight gust of wind across your face. My experience of desert silence is that everything becomes in fact louder and more alive than when we are numbed by too much noise! With this in mind, I have an excerpt from Thomas Merton on silence for you to think about. It’s entitled: The Joy of Silence.
“The human world has forgotten the joys of silence, the peace of solitude which is necessary, to some extent, for the fullness of human living. The solitary life, being silent, clears away the smokescreen of words that people have laid down between their minds and things. In solitude we remain face to face with the naked being of things. And yet, we find that the nakedness of reality, which we have feared, is neither a matter of terror nor of shame. It is clothed in the friendly communion of silence, and this silence is related to love. The world our words have
attempted to classify, to control and even to despise (because they could not contain it) comes close to us, for silence teaches us to know reality by respecting it where words often defile it. (Thomas Merton)