"Against the Dictatorship of Noise"

I recently came across a book called "The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise." The title alone stopped me where I was at that moment.

Whatever about the content of this book by a Catholic Cardinal from West Africa, Robert Sarah, I am still pondering the title. Of course - noise is endemic to our culture, day and night. If you are reading this, think about your own day, and how much noise is taken for granted as a part of  ordinary life, especially if you live in a city or even a town. Notice it...and notice the noise inside your own house. There are people - and I am finding many - who can't be inside without a radio or a television going, and sometimes both at once. I have even met people who have something electronic on in every room. This reality speaks to me - not only of dictatorship - but of addiction. More people than I can name are addicted to the news, many, many times a day.

Try this: turn off electrical noise, even for five minutes, and see what happens inside. Don't DO anything. Be with yourself alone. Notice what arises. Noise is not only outward, but inward, often overwhelmingly so for many, who need outer noise to crowd out the inner.

Next steps?


Love these teachings!

"a man's unhappiness arises from one thing alone: that he cannot remain quietly in his room."

(Blaise Pascal, 1623-62)

"let me keep my distance

always, from those

who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company, always

with those who say "look"

and laugh in astonishment

and bow their heads.

            (Mary Oliver, from "Mysteries, Yes")

Words on Silence from Teachers

I am waiting for you in the darkness and the Great Silence (Thomas Merton)

Come...we'll remain a little while in Silence... (Rilke)

If any man cannot grasp this matter, let him be idle and the matter will grasp him. (Henry Suso)

We can live with such clamor, it is true, in spite of what assails nervous systems attuned to the past, but we pay a price, and do so at our peril. I think the loss of quiet in our lives is one of the great tragedies of civilization, and to have known even for a moment the silence of the wilderness is one of our most precious memories. (Sigurd Olsen)

The mark of the Divine in things is preserved by their connection with the world of Silence. (Max Picard)

Why does something so simple require so many words? (Marion Glasscoe)

the long attraction

Even as a child, I was drawn by silence, though I didn't know it then. I loved the solitude of reading better than any other activity, and for as long as I remember. When we began to move into the woods for the whole of summer holidays, a new silence attracted me: that of the trees and the ponds and the early mornings when no one else was up.

I look back now and easily trace my attraction to Silence. It played a role in drawing me into religious life at the age of 17, when there were significant and long periods of silence every day in those early years. I loved it - even silent meals. Twice in my life - at 22 and 45 - I entered into the steady silence of the 30-day Ignatian retreat, and without any difficulty at all; in fact, another loving engagement with silence.

Now I am on the downslide of the arc of my life, and after decades of intense outer engagement, activity and travel, I am being slowly drawn back to silence, though this time more deeply, more intensely. I became conscious of it several years ago when I first read Robert Sardello's book called Silence, which I have now read four times, each time bringing me deeper. And a new author (to me), Maggie Ross, an Anglican Solitary in the UK is plunging me into greater depths with her book Silence: a User's Guide.

As I write on this second day of 2017, I am aware of a different manifestation of this inner drawing. I am "unsuscribing" from most of the websites that have given me spiritual food for many years. I have rearranged my reading/writing/contemplative time so that it receives the best energy of my day. I am following an attraction to more emptiness than fullness; more inner receptivity than activity, more presence than doing.

So on this page I will be posting quotes and insights of my experience of silence. I/we are at a time in our  history when overwhelm is dominant; when fear and anxiety doinate the news and therefore our days. Entering Silence is more important than it ever was. Listening is more important than speaking. Being present in the heart more important than doing with the head and hands.                                                                              


Brenda 28.08.2017 18:49

If anyone wishes to post a longer comment please email it to me and I will put it in the main comments of the page.

Judy 28.08.2017 16:42

Perhaps this invitation to silence comes with age--or perhaps it is because of the historial moment we have been called to live. But the urge is overpowering.

Brenda 28.08.2017 18:51

Thanks Judy...the overwhelming moment does call me to a deeper listening and surrender...

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Latest comments

23.11 | 19:20

Hi Marilyn...can you share your writing when there's a chance? Love to read some!

04.01 | 19:04

Thanks, Andie...that's it exactly ! So glad you experienced it!

04.01 | 18:36

'Whatever you need
and wherever you go next -
will come to you'
My holiday experience.

28.12 | 15:12

Hi Brenda,
I've just finished reading The Choice - got it from the public library. What an amazing story and an unbeatable spirit. I'll check out youtube now