The Sound of Silence…

Something caught my eye on my Facebook page – a small article about the beneficial effects of silence. In part, it said, ” A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.”

Hmmm…can it be that our brains need silence in order to regenerate? Silence? You know, that slightly uncomfortable situation when there is no noise to distract, annoy or amuse.

We live in a world in which silence is a very rare commodity. Even here in my little part of the universe, living in a heavily forested area beside a small lake, there are always the sounds of dogs barking, traffic on the nearby highway, construction machinery from the new development just over the hill, leaf blowers, lawn mowers and someone’s radio.

In fact, I think that the lack of silence has made us a people who are uncomfortable with the absence of sound. We rush to fill in a space in a conversation, wake up to the sound of the radio, immediately turn on the television as we come into the house, set up our phones and computers with buzzes and whistles and snatches of our favourite tunes. Our cars beep when we unlock the doors and beep goodbye when we re-lock them. Loudspeakers fill hallways, elevators, shopping malls and the dentist’s office with the sounds of the ubiquitous noise called Musak. And we sit on hold on the telephone for hours, listening to the same piece of advertising over and over.

If you travel, think of the cacophony of an airport, a railroad station or a bus station. There is no escape.

Yet God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” We are reminded to listen for “the still, small voice.”

It’s time to cultivate silence, seek it out and give our poor old brains a little growing space. More importantly, that same silence nourishes our spirit and leads us into new understandings of the presence of God.





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