When I was in college, I had friends that began dating their freshman year. I remember passing them in the hallway between classes our junior year. They were right in the middle of the hallway, just staring into each other’s eyes. I stopped to talk to a friend, and then passed by this couple again five minutes later to get to class. They were still staring into each other’s eyes, not saying a word. It was so striking to me that I remember it a dozen years later. At that time, it made me feel uncomfortable to think of staring another person in the eyes so close for that long, but perhaps it’s because I had never been in love yet.
I recalled this silent gaze of love as I was reading Robert Cardinal Sarah’s book, The Power of Silence: “God’s only power is to love silently. He is incapable of any oppressive force. God is love, and love cannot compel, force, or oppress in order to be loved in return.”
Over and over in my life lately, I am coming to realize that life is about loving God. It’s not primarily about being successful, doing good works, having a family, or living life to its fullest. Some of these actions should occur as a result of loving God, but since God himself is love, we cannot know God without gazing at Him the way He gazes at us.
“God is already in man. The true desert is within us, in our soul. . . The Father waits for his children in their own hearts,” writes Cardinal Sarah. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve been practicing being silent lately. Throughout the day, I stop and meet the Lord in my heart. I allow him to love me, and I tell Him I love him. It’s like the definition of prayer by St. Therese of Lisieux: “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” This does not replace the need to have an appointment with God and sit down for quiet prayer, but it does help remind me of his love and presence throughout the day.
Without practicing silence, we cannot know God or his love for us:
“Unless silence dwells in man, and unless solitude is a state in which he allows himself to be shaped, the creature is deprived of God. There is no place on earth where God is more present than in the human heart. This heart truly is God’s abode, the temple of silence. (4)
Again, I recall the lovebirds staring into each other’s eyes in the hallway, not saying a word. Silence is the language of love, and it’s love that changes the world and our lives:
“Without the capacity for silence, man is incapable of hearing, loving, and understanding the people around him. Charity is born of silence. It proceeds from a silent heart that is able to hear, to listen, and to welcome . . . Without silence there is neither rest nor serenity nor interior life. Silence is friendship and love, interior harmony and peace. Silence and peace have one and the same heartbeat.” (20)
I wish you a silent and peaceful 2018. May your most important resolution be one of prayer.