The Ministry of Silence
George H. Morrison
There are certain voices which we never hear save when everything is silent. They reach us as a revelation of the stillness. Sometimes on a summer afternoon one gets away from city or from village and climbs up the grassy hillside until all the noise of human life is lost, and it is often then that there breaks upon the ear a certain indistinguishable murmur as of the moving of innumerable wings. Travelers tell us that there are rivers flowing beneath the streets of the ancient city of Shechem. During the hours of the day you cannot hear them, for the noise of the narrow streets and the bazaars. But evening comes, the clamor dies away, and the dews of kindly sleep rest on the city. Then quite audibly in the hush of night you may hear the music of the buried streams. There are many voices like those hidden waters. You never can hear them save when things are still. There are whisperings of conscience in the bosom which a very little stir can easily drown. There are tidings from the eternal Spirit who is not far away from any one of us, tidings that will come and go unnoticed, unless we have won the grace of being still.
And yet that very element of stillness is one which is conspicuously lacking now. We have been taught the art of being strenuous, and we have lost the art of being still. A recent writer, in a brilliant essay on the orchestral music of today, tells us that we are living nowadays under ''the dominion of din.'' And whether or not that be true of orchestral music, of which I am not qualified to speak, it is certainly true of ordinary life. Our forefathers in the religious life may have had very imperfect ideals of Christian service. They may have tolerated social abuses which we should never tolerate today. But they had one element in their religious life in an ampler measure than we have it, and that was the blessed element of silence. What peace there was in the old-fashioned Sabbath-what ...
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