I’ve drawn to the end of the time I allotted myself for my thinking/reading/writing project on silence. And so come my conclusions…
I feel that I’ve learnt a lot. My journey over the last ten days has been more of a personal one than an intellectual one though. What I’ve noticed, is that we are all different. Whilst I feel the need to balance silence and sound, retreating and returning – “fleeing and staying” as Rowan put it in Silence and Honey Cakes – others like Dom Francis the Abbott whom I met in Wales, desire to stay in silence. Others like Alex, a university student of Lampeter, prefer to stay in sound. Both are good and honourable ways of living.
The problem our world faces is thinking that their individual way is right and should be the way for all. Whether we stand to silence, to sound, or choose bits of both and find ways to integrate them, we should respect diversity. Let me rephrase the sentence a bit to reflect to the wider world’s interests. The problem our world faces is thinking that we must be either right-wing, left-wing or middle-line, and that only one of these three positions is right. The problem is the attempt to justify ourselves above others in an aggressive fashion, effectively destroying the lives of those that are different to us.
When Adam and Eve took some of the – in my opinion metaphorical – fruit of knowledge, they decided that they knew better than God. They decided they couldn’t be naked, they couldn’t be vulnerable. They needed to hide themselves and be ashamed, in part, of who they were. So you see, to live in the beautiful world God intended for us, we need to look back to those first days. I’m not saying we need to throw off all our clothes – looking metaphorically again – I’m saying that we need to be ok with being vulnerable and open with one another and with God.
We need to cast aside our certainties, our facts, and accept a diversity in opinion. Respecting one another, loving one another, allowing others to live in different ways, remembering that each life has God in it, and is precious. Valuable. For example, we can’t be pro-life for the unborn and pro-destruction for the self-living. Peace my friends. That’s been the heart of my silence. Peace. Respect of diversity, an openness and willingness to others. Peace.
It is by the living together in the Church of human freedom and the Holy Spirit that we are transfigured, not by the Holy Spirit replacing our activity, not by our activity being inspired, remotely, by the Holy Spirit, but by the presence together of freedom and God’s Holy Spirit weaving in and out of each other, sustained by the patience of the one with the other.
… The anxious struggles of both conservatives and liberals in the Church need to be put into the perspective of what has been done by Christ and the Spirit to create communion, so that at the very least we have to see communion as something other than a hard-won human consensus. First it is a gift; and where we cease to see it like that, we lose the sense of the divine creativity at work in the Church. We may be left with many problems of discipline and order, but we shall have recalled that the ‘consubstantiality’ of life in the Body of Christ is a genuinely new reality, not just an idea or an aspiration.
– Rowan Williams in “A Margin of Silence”