Thursday, March 06, 2014

Graceful Silence

In the devotional I read today, Henri Nouwen said:
Moments of true compassion will remain engraved on our hearts as long as we live.  Often these are moments without words: moments of deep silence.
I was reminded of the book of Job.  When Job was in despair, his friends came and sat with him in silence.  For a while, they said nothing at all to him.   I imagine that must have been a comfort; to have friends who would sit in silence, not trying to fix anything, not giving advice, not seeking explanations, just being.
Job 2:11, 13 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. ....They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. 
It was when the friends started talking that things went downhill.

Silence can be uncomfortable.  I was trying to imagine this morning what it would be like if a friend came into my office and shared grief.  Would I be able to keep watch, sitting in silence, if that was what was needed?  I hope that I could.

Silence can be a gift, and it can be an act of compassion.  It's not the only way to respond, but it can be one choice of grace.

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