• Simon

The Challenge

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

Another extract from my diary almost 2 years ago.


"Silence is not the absence of something, it is the presence of everything. [...] Silence can be carried like embers from a fire. Silence can be found, and silence can find you. Silence can be lost and also recovered. But silence cannot be imagined, although most people think so. To experience the soul-swelling wonder of silence, you must hear it."

- Gordon Hempton, sound tracker

When was the last time you dared to sit down at home in a comfortable chair, maybe with a cup of tea, just being, feeling and listening to the room for more than 10 minutes? The initial silence might be threateningly dense, almost physical at first. First you hear some sort of swoosh or hissing noise while you ears adjust to the subtle soundscapes of your home (assuming you are not being harassed by the lawn mower of your neighbours). Then the pressure on your ears declines and you start settling in your seat. Little by little you begin to discern the tiny raffling noises of your body against the fabric of your clothes and the chair, the creaking of wooden floors or tired bone joints, soft birdsong penetrating the thin window panes and maybe a birch branch gently clicking on the glass. The curious sound of your eye lids closing your eyes and helping them to release the relentless need to assess and pierce through the world, giving space for the other magnificent senses of your body.

Are you afraid yet? Are your fingers twitching in need to fumble with your phone? Are you breathing quickly remembering all the tasks still to be done today? Does you heart pound of nervousness and guilty conscience. Good.

Go on. Feel it all. Can it be there, with you?

What happens in this enormous space that opens up before me, when I retreat inside and do not project anymore? Can I bare the not-knowing? Can I bare the opportunities and the surprises which are about to reveal themselves? What can be more important than the integrity of now?

patience (n.) c. 1200, "quality of being willing to bear adversities, calm endurance of misfortune, suffering, etc.," from Old French pacience "patience; sufferance, permission" (12c.) and directly from Latin patientia "patience, endurance, submission," also "indulgence, leniency; humility; submissiveness; submission to lust;" literally "quality of suffering." It is an abstract noun formed from the adjective patientem (nominative patiens) "bearing, supporting; suffering, enduring, permitting; tolerant," but also "firm, unyielding, hard," used of persons as well as of navigable rivers, present participle of pati "to suffer, endure," from PIE root *pe(i)- "to damage, injure, hurt"

Patience form a Greek and Christian angle:

3115 makrothymía (from 3117 /makrós, "long" and 2372 /thymós, "passion, anger") – properly, long-passion, i.e. waiting sufficient time before expressing anger. This avoids the premature use of force (retribution) that rises out of improper anger (a personal reaction).

3115 /makrothymía ("divinely-regulated patience") is used of God Himself (see 1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 3:15). Indeed, only the Lord produces 3115 /makrothymía ("true patience, longsuffering") in us and hence is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).

3115 (makrothymía) embraces steadfastness and staying-power. If in English we had an adjective 'long-tempered' as a counterpart to 'short-tempered,' then makrothymia could be called the quality of being 'long-tempered', which is a quality of God (LXX, Ex 34:6)" (F. F. Bruce, Commentary on Galatians, 253).

It seems to me that Silence is the best of teachers and Patience is the most important of lessons. What can possibly rock your core, when you are blessed with patience?