Depending on who you are, the concept of silence may hold a different taste in your mouth. For some of you, a sense of relief might accompany this word. Finally, silence! I (and, I suspect, many other music educators) fall into this category. For others, this word might bring to mind artistic connotations: silence, when well timed within a piece of music, can be more powerful than the notes themselves. Still yet for others, silence may be paired with a sense of discomfort. It can be remarkably uncomfortable to sit in silence, even when alone.
“The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace,” Mother Teresa tells us; and we read in 1 Kings the story of Elijah hearing the voice of God as a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12).
Silence is necessary for developing and deepening our relationships with God. Yet how often in our busy, noisy world do we have the opportunity to cultivate times of silence in our daily lives? Add in all that comes with being a musician, and silence can be difficult to obtain.
Advent has just begun: the start of the liturgical New Year. During this beautiful season, we are called to prepare room in our hearts for Christ as we prepare to celebrate His birth. Intentionally cultivating silence is a wonderful way to prepare room in our hearts for Christ – but it can seem daunting, or even impossible to do in this busy season. Plus, as musicians, we need silence just as much as every other person in the world. Our senses of interior peace, relationships with Christ, and spiritual lives depend on it. Developing a practice of cultivating short periods of silence during this preparatory season of Advent can be instrumental in bringing this practice into the rest of our year.
If you find yourself feeling incredulous that silence is possible to obtain in the frenzy between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Set aside the first five minutes of your day for silent prayer. Five minutes is barely anything. You can take five minutes. If you feel like you can’t – Satan’s lying to you big time, my friend. Just set your alarm five minutes earlier if you need to.
Turn off the radio/podcasts/Spotify playlist during your commutes, even just for a few minutes. Turn this time into an opportunity to spend time with the Lord in your heart. You don’t even have to talk to Him! Just enjoy being with Him, as though you’re with someone you love with whom you can spend time without having to say a word.
Decide on a short period of time (5-15 minutes) during your day or evening in which you can set aside your phone and all other distractions, and use this time to journal with Jesus. Write to Him all that’s on your heart, and then put your pen/pencil down and pay attention to your heart. You might not find He speaks to you at that moment, but you’ll never know whether He wants to if you don’t give Him the chance.
Though it may seem impossible, it’s totally possible to cultivate silence in our lives during the season of Advent. I hope these ideas can help you to begin, continue, or renew a practice of silence in your prayer life!