How do you handle silence? Do you like it? Do you crave it? Do you find it so awkward that you’re always reaching for your smartphone to distract yourself from it?
I cherish it. In fact, I hold silence so dear that I believe it’s the greatest gift we have. I am called to teach how to unleash its life-freeing powers to anyone who will listen.
The opposite of silence is not noise, but distraction. When you’re distracted, you’re unable to focus on what’s important. Silence enables focus.
To me, the modern-day symbol of distraction is Apple’s logo, which has a deep meaning – it symbolizes knowledge. This symbol is one of the oldest and most important in Western culture. In the Bible, Adam and Eve were tempted and took a bite of an apple, which was their first taste of knowledge. After that they were ashamed, and as a result, this first taste represents the fall of man.
So as I hold my iPhone in my hand, I’m not lost in the irony. This device, which places all knowledge at my fingertips, is the single greatest threat to my growth in wisdom. It tempts me. It distracts me from what’s important. It injects noise into my days and deprives me of the gift of silence.
Having said that, I’m not suggesting an iPhone, or any smartphone is inherently evil. Rather, how we use it determines if it’s good or bad for us. Let’s not deny is it the single greatest threat to our growth in wisdom. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. It is the foundation of a righteous life and a civil, just society.
Humans are far more tree-like than computer-like. Information becomes wisdom only as fast as water becomes fruit on the branch. Water cannot travel into roots and up trunks and through limbs in a moment. It takes time and requires the painfully slow process of prayer and meditation, which requires silence and focus. An abundance of information processed rapidly makes for distracted, superficial souls. A limited amount of information processed slowly makes for discerning, wise souls.
Learning how to cherish and utilize the gift of silence is something I am called to teach. It gives me passion and purpose. It’s like shining a nightlight in a dark room. Shine a light into an already lit room, you have changed nothing. Shine that same light into a dark corner, and you have shattered the darkness.
That “darkroom” may be as near as our neighborhood, school, workplace, or the palm of our hand. Let’s learn not to be led into temptation, nor into distractions, but mastery of the gift of silence and growth in wisdom and righteousness.