Just as the rest is a crucial aspect of musical notation, silence is important when we speak of the voice. Knowing when and what to say is important, yet counterbalanced with the knowledge of when one should embrace silence. Silence is important in communication for it allows one to listen actively with whom they are communicating with gives the other person the feeling that they are being listened to and in turn valued.
“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:20
Silence is also important for the individual for it offers the opportunity to be psychically present, to be in a space where words are “poor translation.” Silence is different than merely being quiet. Being silent means that we have turned off the chatter in our minds (at least to the best of our abilities), as well as our mouths. We have instead surrendered to either the offerings of the inner voice or the serene nothingness of the moment.
For me it is all those things and more. Being silent is a gift for it allows me to re-form what it is I want to say and how I want to say it once I do step into my voice. The voice is only as soul-filled as the silence beneath it. So to be a person of my word, I must also be a person of my silence.
“The kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17: 21
There is an innate holiness to silence. It is an expansive space compared to the often limiting stricture of words. To me it isn’t strange that in contemplative orders silence is not only revered, but part of its policy. It’s standard procedure at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village, for example, that certain days of the week or month are designated for silence only.
I advise us all to take time out to be silent, if not for a few minutes each day, at least for the greater part of a single day once a week or once a month. It may surprise us all how greatly it will affect our speech when we finally do step into the truth of our Voice.