silence


If I had one dollar for every time my mother told me to sit down and be quiet I probably wouldn’t be writing this. I would probably be sitting on the beach somewhere in the U.S. Virgin Islands eating a bowl of fresh pineapple and drinking whatever beverage goes with pineapple. As much as I may have resented those words as a kid, both of my parents inadvertently gave me some good advice: sit down and be quiet. Ironically, there is power in the act of sitting down, being still, and shutting up for a while. I think this is what we mean as parents when we tell our kids to “be still,” but the real message isn’t conveyed to the young brains of the receiver. Lao Tzu is credited with saying, “Silence is a source of great strength.” The Bible says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” According to writings related to the Quran, “When intelligence is complete speech becomes rare.”

Beyond the idea of being quiet, lies the concept of finding peace within stillness. We all need a quiet place that we retreat to once in a while. I am reminded of the recent trend of “She-Sheds.” One of my favorite lines from an insurance commercial is, “No one burned down your She-Shed, Cheryl.” We may not all be so lucky as to have our own personal shed of solitude, but we would do well to figure out a way to heed the direction of our parents.

Just a few days ago, my grandmother-in-law abruptly called out to her daughter, “Let’s just sit and be quiet.” It was like she was harking back to a familiar time in which the situation demanded maternal silence. Initially, it was funny; because it was so sudden and out of left field. But as we all sat in silence, even if only for a few seconds, the intermission between yelling over a Scrabble word and working out a teenager’s algebraic equation gave us the rest we needed, but didn’t know we wanted. Try sitting down today and being quiet, even it is just for a few seconds.

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