The silences in our lives and relationships are often significant. There are those silences that are filled with security and peace. Even in the midst of a frenetic world or schedule, we can still carry an inner silence – a sort of interior poise. At times, silence can be a sort of ‘at homeness’ with others: there is a familiarity that does not need to speak; the silence itself is a means of communicating and knowing. This is not an exhausted silence, but one that comes after a long time of being together, of knowing each other in and through the textured experiences of our lives. It can take a lot of work, a lot of attention and sometimes painful mis-readings before we come to co-habit silence and discover that it is now grace rather than exhaustion or a temporary truce, and certainly not a threat or a weapon. We know, too, those long silences of absence and waiting, sometimes in hope and sometimes in dread, and the silences that are not really silences because they are filled with presences and voices, all the conversations we carry within us.
Silence is not so much the absence of noise; it is what lies under the noise. When we experience the rapt silence after a song or a recital, we know that something has been given to us. The silence afterwards is shaped by the music and, in a strange way, the music itself is more than just memory. Neither is it just repetition; it still has a living voice, for even when it has stopped the music does not end. In this way, silence is a gift that allows the music to continue living in us.
There are so many silences that run through the great narrative of Holy Week and they all flow into the long silence of the Father from Gethsemane to Easter morning.