A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post called, “Soul Chatter.” The title came from this quote from St. Philotheos of Sinai:
“Nothing is more unsettling than talkativeness and more pernicious than an unbridled tongue, disruptive as it is of the soul’s proper state. For the soul’s chatter destroys what we build each day and scatters what we have laboriously gathered together.”
Having just returned from a four-day conference for writer and readers—the Oxford Conference for the Book—I can tell you that it was quite the talkative environment. (Watch for a post about the conference soon.) So, I returned home last night and woke up to get ready for church this morning, only to learn that a dear friend’s daughter is in the intensive care unit. She gave birth on Friday—early due to pre-eclampsia—and is having pulmonary problems and is on a ventilator. The baby is fine, but this precious 29-year-old woman whose family I’ve known for forty years is fighting for her life. I wept as I prayed for her while getting ready for church and again during the Divine Liturgy this morning. I didn’t stay for coffee hour after church because I had a very rare (for me) desire to be quiet.
After lunch with my husband, I sat down at my computer to begin a lengthy blog post about the book conference when suddenly the words rushing through my head began to sound, well, loud. So loud I could barely hear the beautiful songbirds in my back yard. This is the first warm, sunny day we’ve had in a long time, so I walked away from the computer, picked up a book, and sat on my patio reading in the sunshine for about an hour.
And then I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and tried not to think about anything at all. I was tired of being bombarded by the incessant noise within my head. And my heart began to remember what quiet feels like.
I Peter 3:4 says that a “gentle and quiet spirit” is “precious in the sight of God.” Why? Maybe so we can hear His voice and experience peace in our lives. And maybe that starts with a quiet mind.
Tomorrow is my birthday so we’re going to dinner tonight with friends (yesterday was his birthday) and I’m looking forward to it. But right now, I’m going to try to hold onto a couple of more hours of quiet. We’ll see how it goes. Shhhhhhhhh.