Read Psalm 19:14
14 May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (NLT)
We can sometimes feel drowned by words. Those words may be spoken by us or to us or about us. The words may be cruel or kind, hurtful or healing. Words can be used to manipulate, control, impress. Words spoken in a Christian context may sound devout enough but may in fact be disconnected from the inner life of the speaker.
The remedy for this is silence. Right speech comes out silence. When I am silent, I allow myself to become more aware of the reality of who I am behind the public façade. I can choose more carefully the words I say and those words thus have integrity and bear fruit.
Our world conspires against the cultivation of silence. Noise is all around us. We need to be talking to others, listening to others talk, hearing whatever music we choose to play. Even in our church gatherings we are usually either singing or speaking words or listening to words. How often are there extended times of silence in our churches?
It is not as if silence is an end in itself or has virtue in itself. Rather, silence allows us to reorientate ourselves to the mind and heart of God. So that when we do speak, and speak we must, our words arise out of hearts more aligned to God. And the more we need to speak, the more we need silence.
It is not only Elijah who heard the sound of gentle silence beyond the earthquake, wind and fire. We all need to hear it.