Many of the disciplines and practices of Lent revolve around abstaining from various things: media, food, sleep, alcohol, etc. However, not many of us would choose to abstain from speaking during Lent (or a portion of the day). Speaking is something that is too critical for most of us: we need to interact with friends, family members, and/or co-workers.
I know I couldn’t do it.
But to me Lent has an essential “silent” aspect to it (or at least it should). We are called to reflection and contemplation, and these things are not easily practiced while we are running our mouths off about anything and everything.
However, being an introvert, as well as engaging in various practices over the last couple of years, I have begun to get more and more comfortable with silence. At least, so much so that I could go on a silent retreat for a few days and not go insane. For my two-and-a-half days in Conyers, I ate and sat in silence, and opened my mouth only to pray and sing and check in with my family once a day.
(I didn’t go insane. At least not any more than I already am.)
I am increasingly convinced that half of the words I say are simply unnecessary. More often than not, I am not speaking in order to edify or to help, but rather in order to reinforce my false self and make myself look good.
Lent (and the different disciplines that accompany it) remind me that “God’s first language is silence,” and that oftentimes the less I speak the more clarity I tend to have about who I am and who God is.
May God free us all from the need to make noise, and bring us to perfect-yet-unsettling stillness that we find in His presence.