Some creative examples are Julio Iglesias, who picked up his guitar in seriousness after an auto accident, or Frida Kahlo, who began her career in art after a horrible accident in a bus. (see: Julio and Frida ) Both of these individuals were forced to look at what they were doing in their lives in the process of recuperation. Their creativity flowered from the silence and slowing down forced upon them by the accidents (and illness, in Frida’s case).
Many of the saints share this turning point of an accident that drew them to God in silence and a forced slowing down of life. The first one that JUMPS into my head is St. Ignatius of Loyola. As a soldier with a serious wound, during his recuperation, subsequent pilgrimage to Montserrat and then time living near it, he formulated his Spiritual Exercises and started what became the Jesuits, a religious order that still works in our world today in about 1534 (Here ‘s a bit more than that.) As a result of silence, pain, and reading, he gave so much more to all humanity then he would have as a soldier! (Cntinue with St. Teresa . . . )
Silence. Nothing. Alone with our thoughts. Some of us crave it and are labeled introverts. Some of us abhor (or don’t like) it and are labeled extroverts. But we ALL need it, introverts and extroverts alike. ESPECIALLY if we are Christians. It almost seems that God will work to help us make this time apart even when we run from him.
Think about a time when you were sick, or hurt and could not follow your daily routine and you were forced to be silent (or think about a time when you were without your phone – no wifi, no cell service or a dead battery. . . or if you are older, remember your childhood before 2007 for iPhones and before 2993 or so before cell phones!) How did you grow from that experience? After the initial frustration, did you find out something new about yourself? If you did not, here are a few stories to help you think about how silence and a change to your activity may inspire you. (Also, no less an authority than Cardinal Joseph Sarah has written a book called The Power of Silence, so take this to heart!) . Continue reading to the left.
(from St. Ignatius . . . )St. Teresa of Avila also gave so much more than she otherwise would have due to the silence she created in her life. Her founding of St. Joseph in 1562
From these examples, you can see that silence has a wonderful effect on lives. From the post on this website about a brain in prayer, you can see the power of prayer in brain images. Maybe from your own experience, you also know the power of silence.
After seeing this power, the real question we must answer for ourselves is whether we are we willing to do whatever it takes to build silence into our day and then accept His mission for us?
Fear of silence is rampant among us. Ways to conquer it are many, but not all work all of the time for all of us. More on other ways to pursue it upon your request. (Examples are hiking, walking on the beach, breathing and focusing on each breath while praying the Jesus prayer, sensory deprivation tanks, meditation, repeated prayer (think the Rosary), getting in the state of flow by any number of activities, running)
Knowing that art leads many to silence and that many avoid art because they feel it is only for artists was the inspiration for starting the Art2Pray series. For years, I watched self-declared “art-haters” become peaceful and silent doing little art techniques that I taught them to help them through any day when we did something creative in my language classroom. Tasks as mundane as drawing a word in a way to help them remember the word brought fear to some students. In five minutes, they went from fear to complete absorption, and they had to be told it was time to end the activity. Many confessed they felt better than they had felt all day. Usually, the whole room full of students had become silent. Knowing how much help could be extended to others made me found Art2Pray. You now have another avenue to silence.
If you are now fine with the idea of silence, you may need to examine carefully your attitude towards prayer. More on that another day! May you begin your walk towards God in silence in the way best suited to you. Please comment below on what you do to find silence, or how you feel when you have spent time in silence. . . or ask any question you may have!