The Value of Learning Silence

In Ursula K. Le Guin’s excellent novel, A Wizard of Earthsea, I read this exchange:

“When will my apprenticeship begin, Sir?”

“It has begun,” said Ogion.

There was silence, as if Ged was keeping back something he had to say. Then he said it: “But I haven’t learned anything yet!”

“Because you haven’t found out what I am teaching,” replied the mage.

The dialogue ends with Ogion warning young Ged, “To hear, one must be silent.”

Stacked pebbles

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure my least developed intellectual and spiritual skill is the ability to be silent.

I can read quietly. I can think quietly. I can pray and worship. Even write or journal. But being still in body and mind? Listening? Silent? I can’t do that beyond a minute.

I know we usually don’t think of silence as a skill, but a moment or two of reflection will convince you. Doing silence well is difficult; it takes practice, repetition, discipline–all requirements we associate with developing a skill. And like any skill, the self-discipline required to develop it yields tangible value: peace of mind, lower stress, mental focus, even richer worship and prayer.

I wonder what wisdom I’m not learning, what spiritual benefit I’m not gaining, because I lack the discipline to be silent, to listen to my Master?

Do you have ideas or resources you can recommend for developing the skill of silence?

4 thoughts on “The Value of Learning Silence

  1. Hi Lon

    In my ongoing attempt to work at this skill, what I have learned is to start small. Set aside a small amount of time, such as 20 min. As your able to master that, then move on to more time by adding, say, 10 min. It is difficult and takes work, but is well worth the effort to be still before The King. For me, it really helps to heighten my ability to be sensitive to Gods voice throughout my life and duties. God will meet you there, and yes its incredible!!

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