The precipice of Silence

I need some quiet.

Need? I know it's a need, but I treat it like a luxury, like something "distinct," as my five-year-old says. Like dinosaurs.


But for a couple of years now--that long--which is maybe a little scary to me, I've spoken about and listened to others my age long for quiet places, for breathing room. Our pastor once preached a sermon about margins, about leaving space in our days not just for rest but for room. Such truth in that, it resonates today.

Such truth in that, I can't seem to make it happen.

Because really, the truest things are often the simplest, starkest actions. Breathe, sit, listen. That's it, no other directive needed. And because it's so simple, the world's got to go and complicate things.

I want to write you and tell you that because I can't seem to find quiet anywhere and I desperately want to listen to what God has to say. I want you to think that I've tried being quiet through guided breathing, yoga practice, solo hiking. But that's not true. I haven't tried lately because I want to be good at it right away. I haven't tried it because I know that it's going to be hard and that the first thing I'm going to step into is a well-built, murky muddy wall of lies I believe about myself.


I just read that there are three parts of a dark night of the soul, and within these words I see that there's a way through this wall I've crafted. Not a light, but the promise of light one day. Maybe that's enough. 

Saint Joan of the Cross wrote this in the late 1600s, and over hundreds of years it breathes new and fresh as if she emailed it to me this morning:


"These three parts of the night are all one night; but, after the manner of night, it has three parts. For the first part, which is that of sense, is comparable to the beginning of night, the point at which things fade from sight.

And the second part, which is faith, is comparable to midnight, which is total darkness.

And the third part is like the close of night, which is God, the which part is now near to the light of day."


I enter into night, into quiet, into His presence through total darkness. I leave behind what I've crafted as truth, what I cling to as distraction...and slog through not even seeing the hand in front of my face, not even knowing what the hell I'm doing.

Which is the way it should be.

I want to leave behind the way things have been, I want a new thing. I want to find a dwelling place and immerse myself in it. Not in work, or perfection, or beauty, or love. But this unlike thing, this quiet where He waits.

So as most things of the spiritual life are, I first have to realize that I can't make silence happen, I can't create stillness, I often tease myself into thinking that if I just made a space or read a book or lit the right candle I'd find quiet.

I have to shed it all, I have to enter in and slowly watch as what is familiar and comforting slips from my shoulders.


But then there's this: as I stand at the cave's entrance--at a precipice of darkness and unknown and cling to this: at the darkest point comes the dawn. When I cannot see to the point that I've forgotten what's in front of me...there He is, there Love is.

It's not a stepping off place, it's a stepping within.