I remember a few times throughout my life taking part in a moment of silence. It’s a tradition we’ve picked up in America, to stop and be still and quiet for a moment to honor the death of a friend or colleague, or to pray with others in a time of tragedy.
I remember when the Twin Towers fell, I was in middle school. That day, the air was heavy. It was thick, everyone was silent, teachers wondering how to explain what was happening, friends of mine worrying about their traveling parents. We were still, quiet, reflective, because we were looking horror in the eyes and wondering what could possibly come from it.
I’ve been working on my second book this week from the attic office of my home, and I notice when things are particularly quiet. I get a bit uncomfortable if it lasts too long.
I can handle moments of silence in honor of others, to hold space for their memories, to mourn or sit in the reality of great tragedies that happen in our country or in our neighborhoods and cities. But taking a moment of silence for myself? What does that even mean?
What would it mean for us to take a moment of silence so that we can take inventory, so that we can ground ourselves in the moment? What would it look like to remember yesterday, and to dream for tomorrow?
Many times when we talk about self-care, we quickly jump to conversations about shame, about selfishness, or about privilege.
What if we imagined self-care to be the thing that gets us through the day, that actually leads us to each other? Stopping to take a breath, to remember who we are and where we are, isn’t a selfish endeavor.
When I began trauma therapy, I noticed how uncomfortable I am with the silence that falls sometimes between my therapist and me. Sitting in that room, sitting with the air, with our breathing, with our eye contact (or lack thereof) forces a reality that our souls are meant to be listened to, cared for.
Taking a moment of silence for ourselves produces space and room to be present with others, and that is one of the greatest gifts we can give someone else.
Maybe in that listening we recognize that indeed, we are mourning, we are looking deeply at our grief. Sometimes we need to stop and take a look at the parts of us that have died off; we need to remember and say goodbye.
We need a moment of silence to remember that we indeed are tethered to ourselves to one another.
The silence is a cocoon, and it leads us out, transformed.
The silence is an incubator, preparing us for growth.
To give the world the best of ourselves, we first have to listen to what our own inner voice is saying.
So let’s get silent, if only for a moment, to remember.
The greatest heroes of our day and the days that came before us are the ones who draw from a deep well. When we hear them speak, we are listening, because there’s something undeniable about the reality of their depth.
They have done the work of investing in moments of silence to listen to their own souls, and so they give us the gift of that outpouring.
It isn’t about being chosen to be great. It isn’t about being prepared, or suddenly called.
It’s about you and me, and it’s about us.
May our moments of silence lead us to ourselves, and may what we find there lead us to each other, a constant cycle never ending, a constant journey toward peace.