Speech and Silence

by Fr. Bob Wild

Silence is a deeper reality than speech. Silence is the earth, words the foliage. Silence is the sea, words the waves on the surface.

The goal is neither to keep silent or to speak. The goal is to have our words come from the depth, from our silence. It is this that makes our words life-giving.

We can be silent because we are afraid to speak or because we really don’t have anything to say. (We don’t really need to know about everything or have an opinion about everything.) Or our few words may come out of a beautiful, delicate silence.

We can, on the other hand, speak when we have nothing to say. For we can easily feel that if we don’t “say something” we’re going to lose control of the situation. Or we wonder what people will think of us.

We can, of course, express our love in speech. But, words can also hurt; they can be used as weapons. And even when they are not unkind, we can use them to ward off the truth of a situation and impose on it our own notion of reality.

We can also use words to control or manipulate. It takes reverence for the mystery of life for us to let go of our desire to “know everything” or appear to know everything.

But if we let go of using words in a non-life-giving way, if we wait for our words to come from our silence, they will be life-giving.

Jesus was relatively silent for thirty years; then he spoke. His silence was the matrix for his words of life.