I cannot help but continue to think of the gift of silence. Silence can also seem a bit strange and uncomfortable as well. However, once I got passed the initial squirming that comes with it, the beauty through it is necessary and revelling to my soul. (I don't that "revelling" is a word, but it's just what came out in my writing so I'm leaving it). I remember four to five years ago when I was reading about the call to silence in the home, I became convicted of it. (By silence in the home, I mean eliminating or cutting down on unnecessary or as much outside noise as possible. Not the interaction of the family, or talking, or sounds out doors.) I worked on keeping the "outside" noise to a minimum. I designated certain days to run errands, specific times the children and myself could watch TV, driving without the radio or music, and even trying to limit phone conversation and calls. I gradually worked my way into each one of these tasks, building on each step to more quiet and contemplation in our home, or our "domestic church", as Blessed JPII calls it. For our homes, our families, give us great opportunities to strive for greater holiness and is a place where God dwells. Becoming aware of these things is much easier done when we quiet our lives as much as possible. Silence eliminates many unnecessary distractions. This venture of mine was more difficult than I had thought.
At night I got into the habit of after the children would go to bed I would just plop on the couch and find something to watch on TV. It was my time to unwind and zone out before bed. This is a wonderful thing to do. It is good to have some time to relax at the end of the day. However, spending it infront of the TV isn't the only way. I needed to check my moderation of such a habit. I can picture one evening when the children were sleeping, actually I only had Stella at the time, so when Stella was asleep. Phillip ran out to get ice cream or something. I sat down to watch TV. I decided to challenge myself to not turn on the TV just until Phillip got home and simply sit on the couch in silence. So I couldn't go distract myself with another task. I actually sat there fighting myself! I would watch the clock feeling like he was taking hours. I would even give in and turn the TV on a few times for a minute and then I would tell myself, "No, turn it off, you can do this." That is how much I relied on distraction, noise, entertainment, etc. Phillip would be gone for a total of about thirty minutes and I would literally be battling myself the whole time! Gradually, such a task became easier and conquered and I would move on to the next one. This little story is so humbling as I sit here thinking of what I am writing. But it's true. I didn't think it would be as challenging as it was. I was surprised by how strong and large my human weakness is, eventhough I shouldn't be. It is just a reminder of how and who I am without God - very helpless and pathetic indeed. I say that with conviction and gratitude. I am not discouraged by it. Instead, I am relieved. For the more aware of my weakness and helplessness I am, the freer I become. For I know that Jesus promises to make up all that I lack and that all things in life have God's hands on them. He and I both know how by myself, everything is a mountain for me to climb. I do not expect to do much on my own. However, with His grace the mountains become mounds that can simply be stepped over. As long as they are the mounds He wants me to conquer.
Anyways...back to silence. So this goal I had years ago has been up and down, just as life is. There are days and seasons when no silence has been obtained. For instance, after we have a new baby, the TV is on much more for the other little ones. And that is okay too. For as St. Therese says, "EVERYTHING is grace". She said during the last months of her life when she could not receive the Eucharist because of her illness, and her sisters felt so terrible for her, Therese would say that receiving the Sacraments is a grace, but that if there are times when God does not permit it, that too is grace as well, because everything is grace. However, over all I do try to make silence in our home a general goal.
I ask myself as I ponder these things, "What have I undeservedly gained from silence?" More than I know I am sure. More silence in our home has helped me focus on the mundane tasks God gives us to become more like Him. It aids my awareness of heaven's presence and communication through ordinary life, making it extraordinary. In silence, my soul hears the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, for He is soft and gentle. Jesus spoke these words about silence to St. Faustina, "Strive for a life of recollection so that you can hear my voice, which is so soft that only recollected souls can hear it."
The silence helps even our children know their parents are available to talk to them, listen, spend time and play with them. It makes us as parents more approachable and available to our children. The PRACTICE of silence and recollection helps me to learn of my own self, my interior life, my soul, Jesus' Kingdom on this earth. This practice helps me to learn to remain at peace no matter what challenges lay before me. It helps create a haven in our home from the chaos of the world, for anyone who enters it. One of my favorite things it has done is it has led the way to many blessed, fruitful and anointed conversations with Phillip and the children. I believe our striving for silence helped open the door for Stella's soul to blossom so much as it did. It was a tool for her own soul's preparation to go Home. For that alone, I am deeply grateful.
But tonight, I am going to enjoy going out with Phillip and maybe even watching a movie if it's not too late. So silence is not on the list for tonight. Blessings!