Years ago, a man made a retreat to a remote monastery. Upon arriving there, the abbot informed him that he and the other monks hadn’t watched television in twenty-five years and that no cellular signals roamed the area. Quietly, he thought: “So much for modern communication.” The abbot then continued: “Although we deliberately lack certain modern conveniences, I can assure you that our friend is here. You will surely find Him in our celebration of the Eucharist and in daily prayer. But you’ll also find Him in the silence that speaks to this place.”
In his novel, The Notebook, author Nicholas Sparks reflects upon silence:
“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash, and impatient must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.”
While it is true that we encounter Jesus in both Word and Sacrament, it is also true that we find Him in the ordinary moments of our lives. As parents, how many of us can remember walking into our children’s rooms late in the evening for that one, final check. Upon arriving there, in the silence, we gazed upon them and listened as the angels whispered sweet dreams. It was though the Lord himself had called us there to witness those simple and perfect scenes of beauty and purity.
In the 1980s, a movie entitled Dad was filmed starring Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson. The story began with a busy and “always-on-the-run” executive required to leave an important business meeting to attend to the needs of his aging parents, but especially his father. As the movie progressed, the son eventually became his father’s caretaker and grew ever closer to him. In the final scene of the movie, as his father neared death, the son is shown crawling into his father’s hospital bed, holding him in his arms, and letting him know how much he loved him. In the silence, the son “marked-the-moment” of his father’s passing.
As we begin a new year, may each of us take a few moments of silence to appreciate the God-given moments of our past. While doing so, may we also ask the Lord to open our eyes to the beauty unfolding before us this very day.