–Did you hear that?
–Exactly. It is the sound of almost nothing.
What do I hear now, as I type in my apartment living room? I hear the sound of my fingers tapping across the keys of my laptop, the sound of the refrigerator humming, the faint buzz of the heating system, and the sound of my own breathing.
So close to silence.
It is past my evening prayers (11pm), and the time of keeping silence is come.
I have not banned communication (hence the words I am typing), only sounds from my mouth. No more trying to form words with my lips or pushing my already sore throat to its limits (though this weekend’s concert should finish it off!). No more attempting to figure out the correct response to another’s story or question. No more complaining, like my roommate and I like to do at this time of day. No more things to say.
There is only listening now.
And reflection on what has been received–in reading, in conversations, in prayer, in experiences, in blessings, and in opportunities.
I cannot speak. I cannot add one more word to the air.
With the final amen of the day, I seal my words off and pause to hear that last word hang in the room.
It is funny that people like to have “the last word” in an argument. It means that they get to speak the ending words that identify them as the winner. It means they do not submit to the other, but instead declare that they are right or justified. My last word of every Lenten Day is an agreement with the prayers of Christians around the world, asking God for His continuing presence with me and those I know. I leave the final words of the night to God, who is especially invited to enter my thoughts while I finish up the day in the quiet of the evening.
I sometimes engage in a practice, called the examine, I believe. I mentally retrace my steps through the day with God, asking Him to “see if there is any wicked way in me and lead in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139). I cannot try to have the last word; instead, I submit to the Holy Spirit’s conviction about things I should have done differently that day and ask God to make me more like His Son, Jesus Christ.
It is getting late; I must go. But take a moment to pause where you are. If you can find some kind of silence in your day, take it to be still and know that Yahweh is God.