Changes · inspiration · knowledge · Trappist monks

The Calm and Clarity of Silence

Last night I accidently, half-watched an episode of “The Simpsons” on television.

It was while I was in the kitchen, having a tidy-up. Master twelve had himself cosily snuggled up under a rug, in front of the television. At first, my mind was on autopilot, whilst going about my chores.

Without warning though, I realised I was listening to those goofy, cartoon voices.

No offence to anyone who enjoys “The Simpsons”, but I don’t watch the show, as I don’t enjoy it, simple as that, which is why I say I accidently listened to some of the show.

I’m also not a believer in any kind of “accident”, so it isn’t completely accurate to claim that I listened to the show “accidently”.

In the storyline, the father had his mouth clamped up (for whatever reason the writers of the show gave, I didn’t hear that part), so rather than hearing only his own voice, he began to listen to what the members of his family were saying, for a change. Needless to say, he learned a lot about them.

My kitchen chores kept me in the vicinity of the television long enough to find out that this gave him a whole new respect for his family.

The show was a reminder to me of a time, many years ago now, when I had a severe throat infection, so severe in fact that I was advised not to speak at all for about three days (not that I could speak, even if I had wanted to!)

My children were young at the time and I only had three of them, aged eight, five and ten months old. It was difficult at first, not having a voice, and I wrote notes to my husband constantly. I couldn’t read to my children and had lost the use of words to comfort them if they were sad, although hugs still worked wonders!

After the first day of speechlessness, however, calm set in. I could see that my family could actually function quite successfully without my voice; it was not, as I had previously believed, an essential commodity in holding my family together!

I remember these three days as the worst of times (I wasn’t feeling well) and also the best of times. The lessons I learned astounded me!

For me, my lesson hadn’t been to listen to my family, I already did that. Children are fascinating little people to listen to, and as they grow their own individual personalities begin to shine through. That is magic in itself!

By the time I was able to speak, I didn’t want to! I had developed a whole new respect for the Trappist Monks who had taken a vow of silence. I now understood the wordless, peaceful presence of their souls.

Trappist monks are an order of Cistercian monks, established in 1664, at La Trappe, in Normandy, France.

Actually, I believe it is not a “vow of silence” as such; however these monks are expected to only speak when necessary and are not allowed any idle chatter.

Silence is said to “empty oneself in order to allow the word of God to flower within”.

The purpose of the silence in the monks lives is to bring about quietude and receptivity. This I can believe, as it happened to me.

The feeling of calm, which overtook my whole being, although it amazed me at the time, has since become a necessity in my life. I can only describe it as being like a drug (not that I’ve taken any kind of drugs, ever!); a completely harmless drug, which enhances your life, giving a clarity of mind that previously, you would not have imagined possible!

The on-going after effects of the silence are calm and clarity, further enhancing not only your own life, but also the lives of those about you.

We are given the gifts of speech and hearing. We also have the gift of wisdom, which we must learn to put to use in overriding our innately human desire for constant chatter.

Just like the three monkeys; “hear all”, “see all” and “say naught”. These three monkeys must have no doubt spent time with the Trappist monks!

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have you yourself ever experienced the changes, overtaking your entire being, brought about by silence?