Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
Â I get words all day through; First from him, now from you!
Is that all you blighters can do? (My Fair Lady)
Silence; we started the day today at Launde Abbey with shared communal silence, and it was bliss!Â Today was the first day of our new prayer and services schedule all created with the aim of bringing more silence and stillness to the heart of Launde Abbey and to those who come to rest awhile in this place.Â Instead of the old regime of morning prayer followed by the Eucharist, which was a demanding hourÂs worth of liturgy first thing in the morning for our guests, many of whom need to rest, we now offer half an hour of silent contemplative prayer followed by morning prayer.Â Midday prayer remains the same and then in the late afternoon we have another half hour of quietness preceding the Eucharist at 5.30pm.Â Fewer words and more space to be still and to listen to God.
Like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, I am sick of words.Â I think many in our culture are sick of words, too.Â We are clamoured at from morning until night and if it is not coming from the outside it is the incessant conversations inside our heads that are so demanding and exhausting.Â Words, of course, need not be just the spoken variety.Â We are shouted at by billboards and advertising, emails and over-busy schedules; so to stop and be still becomes not just a luxury but a necessity.
God speaks, we read, and the world is created.Â But God does not just speak in words and when he does use words they are not simply the giving of information: narrow and arid, but rather, salve for the soul.Â The Word of God is Jesus in all he is.Â The way Jesus chooses to speak is invariably in story and metaphor.Â God speaks in Creation, in music, in poetry, in dance and in art, but we have to be silent to hear it and to see it.Â We have to be quiet inside to be present to it.Â God speaks in and through other people, but we have to be quiet inside to be present to them.Â This quietness does not just happen.Â It comes from a bank or a larder of silence that grows in us as we spend time in silence.
Launde Abbey is a busy place with so many people coming and going.Â It is also a place that has to balance the need of some for quiet and others for conversation.Â But I hope as we practice our new routine of shared silence morning and evening, that a deeper and more profound quietness will grow in the heart of the Abbey.Â It will not be of our making.Â It will not belong to us.Â It will be GodÂs silence, GodÂs words speaking deep with us and creating calm and space at the centre of our lives.