18 December 2010

The Sound of the Silence


A few colleagues and I visited the Carmelite church just outside the city yesterday for some personal reflection and meditation as well as a brief prayer service. My visits to this church are few and far between – it is a bit out of the way in comparison to other churches – but a visit never fails to touch me in a way only this church can.

There is just this unique feeling of serenity to the place that I just do not sense in most other churches. The Cathedral of St. Sebastian, for instance, for all its grandeur and glorious history also often exudes the feel of a public market; and I do not mean this in a disrespectful way. It is just the way things are.


The fact that there were just a few other people at the Carmelite church yesterday apart from us even heightened its feel of other-worldly peacefulness. Seated on one of the back pews with my eyes closed, just soaking in the stillness of the morning, it was so easy to quickly detach myself from the daily struggles in life that rather tend to burden us ordinary people.

The sight of a nun in a chocolate brown habit gliding silently from one part of the church to another almost belied the modernity of the present, such a throwback to the Late Medieval Ages did she totally look like. Her presence completed – for me – the feeling of being in a cocoon not only isolated from the imperfections of the world we live in but also insulated against the passing of time.



In such a state, it was so easy to commune with the Lord. Small wonder there were so many prophets in the Biblical Age. The world was so much quieter then; and it must have been so much easier for people to tune in to that mystical voice that spoke inside their heads. That voice, I would like to think, was the voice of the Lord.

It is so easy, in the modern age, to forget how to listen to that voice. We get so accustomed to the cacophony of noises that bombard our ears throughout each passing day that we often forget to listen to the sound of the silence. And it is through that silence that the Lord speaks…



Seated on the hard pew, eyes closed, I could hear answers to my prayers with astounding clarity. I was making no effort at conscious thought. On the contrary, what I was trying to do was to not think at all. Yet, it was when my mind was totally devoid of my own thoughts that the voice spoke loudest.

When it was time to go, I almost loathed that we had to. Time had flown in a surprisingly special morning. I must remember to go another time soon.



The miracles at the Carmelite church in the previous century are well-documented; and it is, perhaps, the belief that no less than the Mother of God had paid the church a visit that has contributed to the church’s feel of utter serenity.

I had, of course, no recourse but to return to the din of what is called life. Still, it was comforting to know that – for the better part of one cool morning – I was able to rediscover the joy of listening to the sound of the silence, a silence through which the voice of the Lord comes across loud and clear.





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