So I have a confession to make. It’s the kind that probably shouldn’t be immortalised in the peculiar immortality of the Internet, but there we go. Sometimes needs must.
My confession is this: the deadline for this piece has been in my diary for more than a few weeks. I’ve known about it, known it was on the way. I’ve had in mind that it really was about time I came up with something important/profound/apposite/pithy/hilarious to say. After all, the readership of threads, discerning and demanding as I have no doubt you are, would be waiting with baited breath to see how I could get myself in to trouble, cause an argument, or find myself accused of heresy (a badge of honour) this time.
Well here it is. I have nothing to say.
For someone who speaks in public for a living, sort of, someone who definitely makes and extends conversation (sometimes gratuitously) for a living to not have anything to say might come as a surprise. However, try as I might, I can’t come up with anything to say that hasn’t been said before, only better than I would say it. Sure, I could comment on things that are happening in the world at this very moment. You, as you read, might agree or disagree, be caused to question or challenge beliefs; either yours or mine. You might even feel motivated to comment, tweet or email, awarding me the medal of heresy (which only really means that your perception of my view denotes that I deviate from your view of normality). The thing is, would any of that change anything?
Recently, I’ve felt bombarded by noise. Noise and words, that make opinions, that form ideologies, that justify injustice, barbarism, piety, the list goes on. We seem to be in a period where being told what to think, how to respond to situations or people, which side of the aisle in any debate to be on, is the preferred modus operandi. Whenever anything happens, we rush to comment, to draw attention, to generate traffic, revenue, kudos. We want to be liked, loved even. Our words and our response to the words and actions of others gives us an odd kind of legitimacy.
Except it doesn’t. Sometimes, the only thing to do in response to events in life is silence. Silence of awe, silence of shock, silence of humility, silence of solidarity in suffering.
Jesus knew when to speak. Sometimes He spoke with gentle grace, sometimes He spoke sharply, out of anger and frustration. Sometimes He ranted and raved. We all know the stories Scripture tells of the multi-faceted character of our Saviour, who so exhibited the breadth of human experience and yet, most gloriously, honoured His Father above all.
So too, we know that peppered throughout the Gospel accounts are instances of Jesus’ withdrawal into silence. He needed time for silence, to commune with the source of His being and life. The beauty of Jesus, at least in part for me, is not just what He said or how He said it, but the times when He had nothing to say; when He chose to testify to the love of His father by His actions, His integrity, the sheer love and truth of His being.
We face a challenge if our faith is a faith that requires words, justifications, multiple commas and semi-colons in order to be explained and passed on. Sometimes we just need to let go of our intellect, our communication skills and our (supposed) sense of humour and place ourselves at the service of God. Is your God bigger than your intellect?
When was the last time you had nothing to say?