What silence says
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Silence never fails to say something. Between two people who feel hurt and misunderstood, it conveys resentment. Between two people who feel loved and respected, it conveys intimacy. What do you hear in the silence of others? What do you say in yours?
Few think much about what silence says because we live in a loud world, so most think more about what noise to make and what kind of attention to get with it. In our competitive, marketplace culture, we think more about what to say than how to listen. We think more about the impression we make with our bodies than the lessons our bodies offer with their pains and pleasures, like when to slow down and when to get off the couch.
Blessing the meek cuts against the grain of noisy self-promotion because the meek refuse to define themselves by success in the marketplace. In fact, they resist defining themselves at all. Rather, they fix their gaze beyond themselves to God and concern themselves with pleasing God. They realize that they are not the subject for whom God is the object, but God is the subject and they, the object. Ironically, in the whisperings of the God who loves them, they find themselves.
Attention-seeking has its place. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem in a coronation parade and wreaked havoc in the Temple’s outer courts, getting attention undoubtedly was part of the plan. Jesus had to exercise the arts of attention-seeking to bother us out of our illusions and to teach us about the kingdom. Then disciples like me two millennia later seek attention through things like this blog in hopes that we help carry on the program.
But without silence, it all amounts to clamor. The meek may not always be silent, but silence is a good place to find meekness. With our cultural habits of competitive attention-seeking and our mental habits of thinking fast and doing much, silence threatens to make us stir-crazy, and it may for a while.
Yet, you have endured much worse, and this trial ends in reward. To inherit the earth, to finally get off the treadmill of trying to earn your rest and your place in the world, gird up your loins, let go, and listen to the silence. Do you hear the silence of resentment? The silence of love? Take your time.
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