Home > Books on Spiritual Formation, Spirituality > How the practice of silence can make us a better person

How the practice of silence can make us a better person


Yesterday, someone told me how I had become a better listener and have learned to ask wise questions that made them think. This is again, a fruit of God being at work in my life and I trust that in my listening and asking of questions, others also know that I (and God) care(s) about them. Barton explains (on pages 132-33 of her book on Silence and Solitude) how the practice of silence can make us a better person.

“Rather than speech that issues from subconscious needs to impress, to put others in their place, to compete, to control and manipulate, to repay hurt with hurt, we now notice our inner dynamics and choose to speak from a different place, a place of love, trust and true wisdom that God is cultivating within us. Over time we become safer for other seeking souls, because we are able to be with them and the issues they are dealing with without being hooked by our own anxieties and fears. We are comfortable with our humanity, because we have experienced God’s love and compassion in that place, and so it becomes very natural for us to extend love and compassion to others in their humanity.

For all of our piety and activity, we Christians are not always known for our kindness. Sometimes we are downright mean and judgmental. But most, if not all, of our meanness comes out of the places within us that have been unattended and untouched by God’s love. Every broken place that has not been healed and transformed in God’s presence is a hard edge of our personality that slices and dices other people when they bump up against it.

Without solitude, we are dangerous in the human community and in the Christian community because we are at the mercy of our compulsions, compelled by our inner emptiness into a self-oriented, anxious search for fullness in the next round of activities, accomplishments or relationships. When we are not finding ourselves loved by God in solitude, in the company of others we are always on the prowl for ways they can fill our emptiness. We enter life in community trying to grab and grasp from others what only God can give.”

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  1. kanak sharma
    December 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    well i am highly impressed by this i ve been personally feeling that all the tensions of life have been just due to sharing and speaking wid others we must want to master this wonderful art in order to keep problems of personal and professional life at bay. as i ve been practicing meditation lately i feel that i can sm how deal with my problems without bothering anybody.

    • December 6, 2009 at 10:17 pm

      thanks for the comment. Perhaps if we are not practiced in the art of silence, we will not be able to practice the art of listening by which we can benefit from the community that we so desperately need?

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