Sometimes I think God wants us to remember his admonishment, “Be still and know that I am God.” Sometimes, I think he might want to be more emphatic and tell us simply to, “Be quiet” or even, “Shut up! I don’t need to hear all of your regurgitated verbal platitudes, your obsessive jargon. Just give it a rest for a while.” And then he would offer reassurance, “Now you will get it back in due time. But for a moment in your life, take a break! As it is, this is mere chatter.”
And I fear so much of our religious communication is mere chatter, “god talk” with value similar to that of “car talk” or “sports talk” or “talking politics”—providing social grease to reassure and confirm our social connections. We do need silence from time to time and some go for years before the Silence has done its work and “the letter of the law” has become “Spirit.”
Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote a marvelous poem about “The Habit of Perfection” part of which I will now share. Note that he emphasized that only in silence, “Where all surrenders come” will we find “eloquence.” It is Silence that gives meanings to our words and especially The Word.
Elected Silence, sing to me
And beat upon my whorled ear,
Pipe to me pastures still and be
The music that I care to hear.
Shape nothing, lips; be lovely-dumb:
It is the shut, the curfew sent
From where all surrenders come
Which alone makes you eloquent