Friday, April 08, 2005

The Silence of the Mutton

Recent events, which I would prefer not to discuss publicly, have had me thinking about the possibility of observing an overall silence -- including shutting down my blogs. In looking back over my life, one consistent thread has emerged: It seems I can't open my mouth without somebody taking offense. I can say the most innocuous thing, such as expressing an admiration for German culture, and in somebody's mind, this automatically turns me into a Nazi. (Yes, this actually happened.) Sort of like me telling my mother-in-law that I hoped my kids would get to spend junior year abroad (they didn't), and her telling my husband that I was planning to throw them out of the house when they turned twenty.

So it's a serious temptation just to say nothing. Not nothing offensive, since that seems to be impossible: Nothing. Just my prayers. It's radical, it would almost certainly lead to isolation, which is never good, but then, neither is offending people, so who cares?

And then I opened my e-mail Inbox, and I read this:

The Spiritual Senses: St. Mark 7:31-37, especially vs. 34: “Then, looking up to heaven, [Jesus] sighed, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’” Read here of a man who could neither hear nor use his ordinary physical organs of speech. However, the man heard the command, “Ephphatha!,” and “...he spoke plainly” (vs. 35). After that, there was no silencing the man nor his friends.

Who has not encountered terrible seasons when the spiritual senses are closed off to God? The Prophet David knew such inner silence and darkness: “And now, what is my patient endurance? Is it not the Lord? Yea, my hope is from Thee. From all mine iniquities deliver me; Thou hast made me a reproach to the foolish. I was dumb and opened not my mouth, for Thou hast made me. Take away from me Thy scourges...” (Ps. 39:10-13 LXX).
(From the Bible study Yahoogroup Dynamis)

I'm not sure what exactly to think about this. But it was plainly the will of our Lord that this man be able to speak; in other words, not speaking was not a good thing, and He made it possible for this man to speak.

So, I guess this is also His will for me, considering that this particular reflection came into my life on the precise day I was seriously considering giving up speech; also considering that I still have the use of my vocal cords. After all, if He didn't want me to speak, I could have developed laryngeal cancer or something. As for giving offense, though -- I'm not sure there's much I can do about that, other than shutting up permanently. I can't control what people choose to read into what I have to say. I do my best to keep it non-offensive as it is, so total silence really does seem to be the only alternative; and since that's evidently not the Will of God, well.... Chill. Stop putting words into my mouth, and thoughts into my head, that aren't there. You know who you are.


Catrin said...


I think that many of us are faced with this temptation from time to time - and I do think that there are times for silence...

There are also times when silence would be a sin, and the challenge is discerning which of the two it is :) At least for me it is...

This seems to be a hard Lent for many of us - and this is a good thing, or so I am told. When we are placed in the position of seeing our own sins, that is a good thing because it leads to repentance - though the temptation can be to despair.

I am certainly not saying that your being tempted to silence was out of despair - I suspect that it is more like frustration. I know that particular place well...

Philippa said...

There are few things that drive me battier than someone reading into my words what was NOT intended. Generally I say what I mean.

I've tried the silence thing Meg. It doesn't work. You know my situ. Silence has driven me here. If a person can learn to be silent, and let the internal words shut up too, and let the internal anger go...well THEN the silence is blessed. If not, then it is a prison.