Silence

Author, Angela Barnes Butler, has written about the discoveries she made as she learned to listen to the stillness.  As I read her post, I realized I had often mistaken stillness for silence.                                                                                                                                http://angela-wholehearted.blogspot.com/2012/12/stillness.html

I wished as a child I had fully understood the difference between stillness and silence…but I’ve learned that wisdom is not always given to the young.

My father was a very quiet man, always loving and also a hardworking business man, but he was not always comfortable talking with people. Sadly, this sometimes included his own family. My mother was just the opposite: strong-willed and a strong communicator. But sadly for us, this meant when she didn’t get her way, she would blow up and then punish us with silence…sometimes for days.

I am able now to recognize that my mother had some emotional difficulties. At the time, I walked in fear of doing something to upset her. My brother (13 years older) moved out but felt he had abandoned me. Our father buried himself in his work. The silence was deafening to this little girl. My imaginary friend was birthed and Artney was a loyal, but silent companion.

I became a chatterer. I talked to everyone who would listen and even to some who wouldn’t! I talked so much, I soon was getting in trouble at home, at school and even at church…but at least there was no silence in my head.

Almost 20 years later, my newlywed husband realized he had married someone who started a conversation the minute my eyes were open in the morning. He often fell asleep with me still in conversation at night!  He lovingly told me one time, “Ruth, I would love you even if you weren’t talking!”

That was almost 40 years ago and fortunately I have learned and appreciate the distinct difference between silence and stillness. This is a good thing. Our children are now young adults. My husband has had advanced Parkinson’s for several years now.  I often encounter my old enemy of silence. But the wisdom I really needed as a child has taught me to turn silence into stillness.

In the Old Testament we read about the prophet Elijah who went into a cave. “And the word of the LORD came to him… in a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:9, 12). David, the young shepherd boy who would become a King, recorded “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1-3). And the Lord tells us “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

I continue to learn about stillness. I recognize that I can be free from distraction, free from noise. In stillness I learn submission. I now recognize I can be at peace even in the midst of a storm or in the middle of silence.

So I wait in stillness and listen…carefully…to what The Lord has to say in my heart.

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23 Responses to Silence

  1. Becky says:

    Your writing and memories are so tender and personal. Each person reading can have a memory jogged by your word-travels. Thank you! I think it is good that we all learn about those war days from the part of the country where we-were-not. There is much to learn.

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    • Ruth Packard says:

      Thank you, Becky, for your kind words! I love that we continue to be learners, no matter our age in life. I believe this is one reason I enjoy reading blogs. It’s amazing how someone else’s words will jog our memories!

      Like

  2. Ethan Billhime says:

    WOW!!!! I think I am going to use a lot of these in a devotional book I am trying to write. If that is ok with you. My verse on a Bible plaque was Psalm 46:10.

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    • Ruth Packard says:

      Thank you, Becky, for your kind words! I love that we continue to be learners, no matter our age in life. I believe this is one reason I enjoy reading blogs. It’s amazing how someone else’s words will jog our memories!

      Like

    • Ruth Packard says:

      I had no idea you are writing a book! Good for you! In your 16 years of life, you already have a wealth of experience to draw from. Plus you have the Word to help you! Keep writing and then write some more! Love to you, Aunt Ruth.

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  3. I just popped over from your comment on my site. Your journaling is very refreshing. Keep it up. You have a good voice. I will be back.

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  4. Lisa Lampkin says:

    Beautifully written Ruth. Thank you so much for sharing. I can relate to some elements in this too. You are such a blessing even in your writing!!

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  5. Amy Putkonen says:

    Hi Ruth,

    Sheila Skillingstead recommended a link to this post for me and I am glad she did. This was wonderful. I wrote a whole blog series on stillness and I kept getting the stillness and silence mixed up. I think that you can have silence without stillness and stillness without silence. I loved the link in the beginning where she shared about the sounds of summer. Not silence but stillness present. And your share about the darker side of silence when someone is definitely not still. Or perhaps still like death. I wrote about that too. It was fun to find you. I am a first time visitor but will add you to my reader. Have a wonderful week!

    Amy

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  6. Sue says:

    Ruth,
    I had never really taken the time to think about the difference between stillness and silence. But your post has opened a door of questions for me to ponder. Most of the time I am a very quiet person and I think that is why my expression comes out in my artwork. You have given me much to think about.

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    • Ruth Packard says:

      Thanks for coming by! I just love how all these blogs give us so much to think about and new ideas to ponder!

      By the way, I have loved your art since our first class with KellyRae! You are an amazing artist!

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  7. What a lovely post about your journey to understanding stillness. I’m most comfortable with large spaces of silence in my life, which I suppose makes it much easier to tune into stillness. But when I do tune into that place of stillness, I almost always feel a great sense of peaceful expansion.

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    • Ruth Packard says:

      This morning I thought again about what I had written and the replies. When I went outside to go to work, everything was covered with ice. No birds were singing. No dogs barking. It was so still. Just on a whim, I decided to walk across our yard…just to hear the ice crunch!! My drive to work was happier.

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  8. Kirsten says:

    I saw swiftly transported from my kitchen table to your childhood home… the silence felt sad and heavy. That feeling is only created by quality writing. Thanks for bringing me into your living room, brave one!

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    • Ruth Packard says:

      Thank you, Kirsten! I’m so grateful to be able to use writing as a means of healing experiences that could have easily left scars.

      By the way, I love how you interact and write about your children! That comes from a mother’s tender heart!

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  9. This was lovely. Very well written. Your voice is amazing.

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  10. I love this post. My father was the exploder in our house and my mother, the quiet one. I chattered all the time…away from home. At home, I learned the hard way not to be so verbal unless I was prepared to get sent to my room (which I sometimes was). I love how our paths have crossed and I love how you are finding balance. Enjoy the stillness 🙂

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    • Ruth Packard says:

      Amazing how so many of our childhood experiences have impacted our lives. I love being in the company of writers who use their life trials and victories to make an impact to others! Thank you, Michele, for including me!

      Like

  11. Hello!
    Interesting perspective on stillness vs. silence, I had never thought to separate the two, but your right, they both have very different meanings. I appreciate stillness, I need it, but you know that…but often when my home is silent, I find myself turning on music or even the TV for noise.
    Nice to make your acquaintance,
    Angela

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    • Ruth Packard says:

      I often have music playing…50s rock ‘n roll when I need to do housework quickly! I enjoy instrumental pop just for background when I’m writing. My husband grew up in just the opposite environment. His dad had two televisions on at all times while playing two radios and a CD player. We’re talking unlawful decibel levels! I would long for silence when we were there!!

      Good to meet you, too!

      Like

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