The Very Reverend Todd Donatelli

Silence

Posted By Todd Donatelli on July 28, 2015

“The first line of our Psalm today (Psalm 62) I find particularly fascinating. ‘For God alone my soul in silence waits.’ The prayer book version is a good and very musical translation. The original language: ach el-elohim, dumiah nafshi. The second part I find especially resonant. Dumiah nafshi. Literally it would be ‘my soul is silence’. Not silent, but silence. So we might translate ‘surely, before God, my soul is silence itself’.”
Br Mark Brown SSJE

    ‘Surely before God, my soul is silence.’

    To say we live in a noisy world is to repeat something we have known for a long time. From aural media to social media noise is an ever presence.  Even when we turn off the external noise we often hear internal noise, accusing voices,  ‘things done and left undone’, unsettling noise of the soul. It can be a noise whose volume we find difficult to turn down.
    ‘Surely before God, my soul is silence.’  Surely before God, my soul is the place of silence, not something I try to silence. A state of being versus something we achieve. The Psalmist proclaiming rather than thinking God among the internal voices of accusation and judgment, a God of voices stating what could have been done better or done at all, it is before God we find stillness, quieting of voices, silencing of noise external and internal. ‘Surely before God, my soul is silence.’
    This is one reason we value and practice silence in the liturgy: naming that this space, with God, with one another, with ourselves, is silence; this space is a place of being, of being present and soul quiet.

    ‘Surely before God, my soul is silence.’ 

    It is one thing to turn off the external noise. Turning down internal noise, internal voices can be another matter.  If we find it difficult to experience, if we find it difficult to believe before God there is silence, perhaps a story from the beginning of the scriptures speaks to our internal noise and its absence in God.  When Adam and Eve hide and cover their bodies in the garden, God finds them and asks why they have hidden and covered themselves. “We heard the sound of you and were afraid, because we were naked.” God said, “Who said you were naked?” We see ourselves as naked, meaning exposed. God asks, ‘Who said you are naked?’ In this is the implication that God sees us, all of us, and sees nothing worthy of hiding, nothing of which we are to be ashamed.  ‘Who said you were naked?’

    ‘Surely before God, my soul is silence.’

Peace,
Todd Donatelli