Posted by: Philip Rushton | October 29, 2011

The Value of Silence: Insights from the community of Taizé

There is a difference between silence and simply being quiet. True silence, as understood in scripture and the Christian tradition, is a time where we not only quiet our external environment but our internal dialogue.

In preparation for our Taizé prayer service tomorrow evening, I read a great article on the value of silence written by a member of the Taizé community in France. The author points out, “sometimes we are apparently silent, and yet we have great discussions within, struggling with imaginary partners or with ourselves.” The discipline of silence seeks to quiet this internal battle. To be silent before God is to lay down our worries and to rest in the knowledge of who God is. The author writes, “silence means recognizing that my worries can’t do much. Silence means leaving to God what is beyond my reach and capacity. A moment of silence, even very short, is like a holy stop, a sabbatical rest, a truce of worries.”

One of the highlights of the Taizé prayer service is the 5 minute time of silence that follows the reading of the gospel. This affords us a rare opportunity to simply rest in the knowledge of God and lay down our worries at his feet.

The psalmist models this type of silence for us throughout the psalms. In psalm 131 he writes, “I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” To still ones soul means to assume a childlike posture. A weaned child is no longer crying and is no longer in turmoil. The weaned child is comforted and supported in the loving arms of a parent.

To achieve this type of silence, the psalmist has laid down his worries and has let go of the things that are too overwhelming for him to handle. Psalm 131 begins with the declaration, ” my heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Silence requires humility and simplicity. To discover the freeing silence that the psalmist experiences one must give up the tendency to be in control. The quieted soul is a soul that has handed over the worries of life to God.

If you are around tomorrow night we’d love to have you join us for this unique service of silence, scripture, and contemplative music.

You can read the complete essay on the value of silence from the Taizé community by going to this link:
http://www.taize.fr/en_article12.html

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Responses

  1. I like the idea of quietness and silence both in public and private worship, maybe being raised by Quakers had something to do with this. I would add another element to this and that is this: we, or at least I, need some quiet time before worship events, such as the Taize’ service. When I rush into time with God it seems that I have great difficulty in connecting . And in our lifestye in America being still and knowing God is God is hard

  2. […] The Value of Silence: Insights from the community of Taizé […]


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