Upon awakening the first morning in our new place, the very first thing I noticed was the deep silence. Instinctively I took the deepest breath I had taken in months. Until we moved here to Laguna Woods, I didn’t even realize the noise level in west Los Angeles. I had obviously gotten accustomed to the constant roar of the freeway and the city noise.
Waking up that first morning here, the silence was profound and delicious. The stillness was like a balm for my soul after all the moving, packing, and running around.
Surrounded by stillness, I can breathe more deeply. In silence, layers of thought and movement get peeled away and I’m able to see more clearly, settle my self down.
Judaism has several different paradigms of experiencing God/Divine/The Great Oneness and accessing wisdom. One is the explosion of awareness at Mt. Sinai. God speaks with thunder and lightening, and loud shofar blasts. Kind of like being knocked over the head: SEE THIS!
On the other end of the spectrum. we have the experience of Elijah (we read this in the haftarah this week) where running for his life, he hides in a cave. There, he encounters God decidedly NOT in the wind, earthquake or fire that comes his way, but in the still small voice (1 Kings 19: 9 – 13.)
I was so grateful when I first learned the Elijah paradigm of experiencing God in stillness. It was a validation of my own way of accessing Divine wisdom that I’ve had my whole life – when I’ve taken the time to be silent.
Some of my greatest insights and “aha” moments have occurred when I’ve had periods of time of being still. Even when there isn’t the external noise of the city – there’s a constant hum of thoughts and the busyness of my mind always planning, thinking, perseverating.
In dedicated silence, whether in meditation practice or (best yet) retreats, I have found the noise settles down enough that I can access a depth of awareness not possible any other way.
Unlike Sinai moments that are inescapable blasts, silence is something I’ve had to consciously choose.
There’s so much more to say about the still small voice – it is our theme in Hineni this month (come join us!)
As the arc of the Jewish year begins to bend toward the High Holy Days, spending some time in silence is perfect soul preparation.
What’s your own relationship with silence?
Is it easy for you? Uncomfortable?
How do you deal with silence in conversations? Are you ok with it or do you rush in to fill the space?
Do you regularly have times of stillness in your day?
What insights have you had in your life that emerged from the still small voice?
In the riot of summer, it may seem counterintuitive to be talking about accessing the still small voice – but it’s really the best time of the year. When schedules are a bit lighter, it’s easier to fit in stillness.
I would love to hear your thoughts and your own experiences of the still small voice within. You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a wonderful July.