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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Silence

Pushing the Limit

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This weekend I watched the movie Silence. It takes place in 17th-century Japan, when there was heavy persecution of Christians. The story follows two Jesuit priests who are seeking their mentor, who has reportedly committed apostasy and denied the faith. It is an intense movie, and disturbing on many levels. I was drawn into the conflict the characters faced, wondering how I would respond under similar circumstances. Many were strong even in the face of death. But there is one character in particular whose weakness was all too apparent, to the point that I got irritated with him. It was difficult to tell whether he was sincere or not, as he repeated the same mistake over and over. At one point, the priest asks himself, “How can Jesus love such a wretch as this man?”

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A Time for Silence

Most people are uncomfortable with silence.  There’s something very awkward about it somehow.  As an organist, I love the MIDI component in our organ that allows me to pre-record a song and play it when I go up for communion.  Before it was installed, I dreaded those silent two minutes like you wouldn’t believe.  I felt like everyone was starting at me, waiting for me to get back on the organ bench.  But with quiet music playing in the background, somehow everything seems better.  The same philosophy holds true in conversation.  We all dread those awkward lapses when no one has anything to say.  We try desperately to fill the void with pointless one-liners: “Soooo, nice day out today, huh?”  or “Man, I’m tired,” or “Let’s see, what else?…”  We just have to say something, anything to avoid silence.  But sometimes silence is a good thing.  Recently a friend told me devastating news on their end that literally left me speechless.  I racked my brain for something to say and came up completely blank.  (That’s rare for me, by the way.  I’m a writer and I’m supposed to have a way with words, so you know things are desperate when even I can’t think of a response.)  After a while I finally realized something important.  Sometimes the most powerful way to communicate is to say nothing at all.

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