An Experiment in Silence

I’m in the midst of an experiment. Imperfect it may be- conducted by a flawed human being. But nonetheless, I am running little exercises, taking notes, making measurements, and forming all types of hypotheses. What is my grand experiment?


As human beings we have so many devices to do the job, apps to assist, and instruments to make things easier. Yet when I look around I don’t see rested faces. I see exhaustion. Weariness. Withering. Our task lists have become task masters. We can’t lug one more thing.

And our problem is so much greater than the buzzing of another text or the pinging of another email. Our Great Problem is the “duty” we carry around. The duty to be the best, be available, know everything that’s going on, know everyone who’s anyone, to not just worry about what we’ve done but all we could have done, should have done, and should be doing.

All our screens- big-screen, mini-screen, desktop, and laptop- constantly add to this badgering. For to be always connected is to never be good enough alone. To never be good enough “as is.”

And so back to my little experiment.

As much as I am able (considering I publish a blog and work for an online marketing company), I am trying on “as is.”

My rules to share? Nothing hard and fast- for I have found that legalism is the quickest way to kill an experiment of the heart. Rather, I have adopted a few principles, serving as gentle guides to remind of the quiet ways.

  • Embrace silence. Stop filling every space and every moment with noise. Turn off the radio. Drive in the quiet. Listen to the inner movement of the heart as God speaks through the light-filled trees passing by your window as you drive, the gentle rush of water as you wash dishes, and the comfort that fills your heart when you close your eyes to rest.
  • Disconnect. At regular intervals, take time to disengage from the constant call of social media, the Internet, and all our screens. Take time to fully be- in this present tangible plot of eternity- not just in the nebulous wireless universe. You’ll be surprised how interesting everyday living can be. Which brings me to my next guide…
  • Become a manual laborer. No, I’m not suggesting you trade in your day job to dig ditches (though if digging in the dirt really gets you going, why not?). Rather, make something with your hands. I remember reading an article about a man who lamented the fact that his entire career could fit on a thumb drive. In our information age, we have lost the satisfaction that comes with building something tangible, something concrete, that can stand as a monument to our work. So break the cycle and do something with your hands. Whether it’s baking a loaf of French bread, starting a garden, or painting a wall, make something solid. And it’s odd but all this manual labor, dirty hands kind of work, is strangely satisfying. Like therapy for our atrophied souls.

None of these gentle guides, you may notice, strictly mark meditation in an empty room, the smallest sound of noise glared at with annoyance. This is intentional. For to me it seems that the lack of silence today is not just the lack of noiselessness. Rather, the lack of silence extends to the lack of turning our attention to the inward landscape, the lack of acquaintance with true solitude (and thus the lack of acquaintance with ourselves), and the lack of making something truly worthy. We try so hard to cover our paper-thin, shivering, unknown-even-to-ourselves souls with all manner of noise and occupation. It’s time to stop.

To stop and be still.

For only in the silence will we find the Greatest Scientific Wonder of All: Jesus.

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“…and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces….but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a delicate whispering voice.”
I Kings 19:11-12