I have gone back to Henri Nouwen’s book, The Way of the Heart, his reflection on how the sayings and stories of the Desert Fathers can inform ministry in our day (and any day). What struck me was his notion that silence is not usually what we think of. We think of silence as an opportunity to have ‘me’ time or to have our ‘privacy.’
Silence from the desert perspective is not to have a quiet moment for ‘getting away from it all.’ Desert silence is going in your cell to be mortified; to be purged; to be converted. It is to leave the world, face the Devil and one’s own disordered passions. It is to stand in God’s presence, with all that we are and all that we are not laid before him. To stand before him to whom all hearts are open, all desires known and to whom no secrets are hid.
Indeed, the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before Him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.