Recently, the topic of quietude and silence has been on my mind. I guess it’s because I’m struggling to keep my mind quiet to hear God’s voice and think. So I thank God for a few related articles that came up these few weeks, causing me to search my heart and ask myself some hard questions. There are times that I’ve kept myself busy so that I don’t have to be silent and confront the emptiness within, but silence and solitude should serve as opportunities to meet God.
Below is an extract from Justin Taylor’s blog, where he recommended reading Peter Kreeft’s book, Christianity for Modern Pagans, Pascal’s Pensees Edited, Outlined, and Explained. (Pensées is a series of Blaise Pascal’s thoughts on Christianity written in the 17th Century.) Kreef writes of Pascal’s Thought #136: I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room:
We ought to have much more time, more leisure, than our ancestors did, because technology, which is the most obvious and radical difference between their lives and ours, is essentially a series of time-saving devices.
In ancient societies, if you were rich you had slaves to do the menial work so that you could be freed to enjoy your leisure time. Life was like a vacation for the rich because the poor slaves were their machines…
[But] now that everyone has slave-substitutes (machines), why doesn’t everyone enjoy the leisurely, vacationy lifestyle of the ancient rich? Why have we killed time instead of saving it?…
We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We wanted to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about.
For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hold in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.
So we run around like conscientious little bugs, scared rabbits, dancing attendance on our machines, our slaves, and making them our masters. We think we want peace and silence and freedom and leisure, but deep down we know that this would be unendurable to us, like a dark and empty room without distractions where we would be forced to confront ourselves.