Silence. Many of us don’t do well coping with silence. In my own case, I’m a second-generation silence-shunner. During my childhood, I remember my mother almost always had a radio playing in the background. Both she and my dad slept to the muffled sounds of a radio providing ambient noise.
Music provides my preferred background sounds and I have a diverse collection of music on iTunes, a couple weeks’ worth, if played 24/7. At night, I don’t use a radio (deferring to my Beloved!) but I usually rely on a fan for constant sound.
Some mothers who’ve raised their offspring are known to dread the silence that results from an empty nest. Suddenly-single spouses (whether single by death or divorce) may encounter the loneliness of silence causing unexpected stress. In fact, the concepts of loneliness and silence are often coupled. Excruciating loss (as one suffers after death of a spouse) brings both loneliness and silence into painful focus. (Thankfully, I’m not speaking from experience, but I can imagine.)
I viewed a video today that chronicles the tragic death of a child. [Again, my experience doesn’t allow me to speak knowledgeably about this family’s experience, although I understand how my sister’s death (post here) marked my childhood and has affected my life.] After watching this 40-minute video, one recognizes how much this family relied on God’s healing through their sorrow, and no doubt, how they continue to look heavenward in their pain.
Still, it rarely matters how desperately we look to heaven in the silence and through our loneliness, the tendency is to carry such burdens heavily on our own shoulders. Christians may as easily give in to despair, just as non-religious people may sometimes suffer after tragedy.
I’ve experienced those times (though not because of the death of a child) where it seems as if nobody − and certainly not God − hears my prayers! Times like that make the loneliness and silence even more suffocating. The Good News is God hasn’t stopped speaking in those times … we’ve simply failed to hear him.
This is the sense of today’s sonnet, a desire to take meaning from the silence. As with the family in the above video, I don’t always understand the situations as God sets them before me, but I’m learning to trust his sovereignty and I live in the shadow of his Grace.