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.”
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?