As tourists stream into chapels, cathedrals, and basilicas in Italy, they are greeted with the musky scent of history, breathtaking art, an aura of peace…and signs everywhere demanding silenzio!
It became a family joke during our once in a lifetime trip several years ago. To this date, a firm and enthusiastic “silenzio!” at family gatherings is guaranteed at least a snicker. Think about it, though. It’s a little sad that, even in the face of ancient holiness, we have to be reminded to be silent.
When you think of fun family times, doesn’t your mind immediately frame boisterous holiday dinners, competitive rounds of Uno, Catan, Risk, or (my personal fav) Agricola, and backyard games with crazy unwritten (and yet hotly contested…) rules? As I reflect on moments emblazoned on my heart as particular treasures , however, rare silent exchanges rush into view.
When our granddaughter was born last year, I had the immense privilege of living with my daughter for a bit while my son-in-law was completing some military training. One of my great joys was to let my daughter go to bed while I managed the final wake period of the day and prepared Aletheia for bed. I snuggled and sang to her, and she looked into my soul with her big blue-gray eyes. While the stars shone and the light of the moon rested on the windowsill behind me, we gazed at each other and connected in the stillness.
Recently, while visiting with my son and his family, my grandson and I were alone in the living room. The sun was creating interesting patterns of light and shadow, and Daniel was intrigued. The sun must have been shining on my hair, because he came close to study it. His chubby toddler hands moved slowly and ever so gently as he combed his fingers through my hair. I said nothing. He was so still and focused. We just looked at one another for a long moment and smiled. The deepest part of our souls connected in that moment – in silence.
We all know and acknowledge the distraction and noise of our 21st century lives. The ruckus of games and adventures are necessary and enjoyable aspects of our role as grandparents. But what a gift we give when we bring tranquility. As my grandchildren grow, I want them to remember the chases around the kitchen island, the wacky peek-a-boo games, and the splashes in the kiddie pool in the backyard. Even more, though, I want the kind of moments that I described above to be just as transformational for them as they are for me.
I hope and pray that my grandchildren will embrace soundless beauty. I want them to experience transcendence in silence – without needing a sign to remind them.
What is your relationship with silence? Have you had similar experiences in your family of families? Do you have any thoughts to share about silence in your spiritual life? Let us know in the comments section. Click like and share on content that appeals to you and let us know what you’d like to see covered here.