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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Speaking Out of Silence

Sometimes it’s the passages that I have not underlined that stand out the most when rereading a book like The Way of The Heart. That was the case with the following excerpt from Henri Nouwen’s reflections on how “Silence Teaches us to Speak” (The Way of The Heart, Ballantine Books, 1983, pages 40-42).

According to Nouwen, silence teaches us to speak by shaping our words. Words that emerge from silence come forth in fullness and presence, he writes, when they are born in the “divine silence in which love rests secure.” Now here is the passage that stood out for me when I read it earlier this evening on my commuter train:

“Here we can glimpse the great mystery in which we participate through silence and the Word, the mystery of God’s own speaking. Out of his eternal silence God spoke the Word, and through this Word created and recreated the world. In the beginning God spoke the land, the sea, and the sky. He spoke the sun, the moon, and the stars. He spoke plants, birds, fish, animals wild and tame. Finally, he spoke man and woman. Then in the fullness of time, God’s Word, through whom all had been created, became flesh and gave power to all who believe to become the children of God. In all this, the Word of God does not break the silence of God, but rather unfolds the immeasurable richness of his silence.”

“As soon as we begin to take hold of each other by our words, and use words to defend ourselves or offend others, the word no longer speaks of silence. But when the word calls forth the healing and restoring stillness of its own silence, few words are needed: much can be said without much being spoken” (page 41).

When we speak, may we have the wisdom and courage to speak out of silence.

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