A Necessary Silence

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown,
for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir

I guess it’s finally happened. I have nothing more to say.

Each day I drive home with a great idea for a short story or a blog post. Each night they crumble to dust somewhere between brain synapses as my fingers stammer all over the keyboard. Today was going to be an especially good one. And then nothing. Just like the day before. And the day before that. And before that.

I’ve entered a wilderness that has no path. There is no cabin in my Walden. There is no Brandywine Bridge to lead me back home to the Shire. There is only this silence.

I have considered the possibility that I am not supposed to write anymore. At least at this present time. I’ve felt called lately to sit this one out. To spend my time in the proverbial desert. And I’m thinking that this is a good thing. I haven’t been able to write anything of substance for months. Plus if I were to write now it wouldn’t be very pleasant I’m afraid. I see too much…hear too much. Everyone has a gripe. Everyone bitching about this or that. I’m tired of it. So before I add to the din of the offended and the reactionary drivel I’ll be looking for a Narnian lamppost to serve as my marker, though I know I’ve already found it.

Instead of talking, I’ll be listening. But not to the white noise. Not to those who complain loudly and say nothing at all. I think my silence may divinely inspired as we are entering into what is shaping up to be the most bitterly divided campaign and election season. And so I’ll be unplugged as much as I’m able to unplug. I’ll be listening instead to that still, small voice. “Be still…”

There is another reason for this silence that I’ve considered. One that I’m not proud of. I’m a little scared. Scared of making my voice known in this age. This is a time when I’ve been called a racist for stating that fiscal responsibility, not more reckless spending, is necessary. A time when people find it so easy to mock others, even their friends, because of their appearance or their beliefs. A time when the most unpopular and scorn-inviting thing you can do is simply say these words: I believe marriage to be a covenant between a man and a woman. Or these words: Abortion is murder. Or even these: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth…”

After much consideration though I’ve determined that I’m not scared. How can I be when I’m raising my children to have voices of their own and to exercise their speech? What kind of hyprocrite and coward would that make me? How can I be scared when there is so much more than the short time I will spend on this earth? There is an eternity to consider. Perspective…it really is everything. While considering these things a few years ago I wrote:

As for me, I am a walking paradox. A contradiction. This is what makes it so hard for me to focus sometimes. I love philosophy and deep theological discussions. And in the next sentence will talk about how Batman is my favorite superhero and how annoyingly funny Foghorn Leghorn can be.


I will pray the rosary with someone who is hurting, tenderly offering up prayers of intercession. An hour later I will cuss like a sailor in heavy traffic.

I want the world. But I long for heaven.

I think a sign of maturity is not wanting the world. I know I don’t anymore.

I’m not scared of bullies, though that’s what we see all around us every day. They’re in the car driving next to us. They are intimidating citizens and businesses. They are shouting in the echo chambers on their favorite blog or media outlet in the comment boxes. They may even exist in our own bathroom mirror.

And that’s what I’m really scared of. Joining the ranks of the bully by just typing madly while mad. Typing while outraged over the latest perceived outrage. That’s not me. And that helps no one. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I still feel called to be one.

Good teachers aren’t bullies.

I will not be forever silent. Bullies have plans you see. Their tactic is to bully their enemies into silence, through intimidation, ridicule and verbal or even physical assault.

Silence is defeat.

I will not be silent. But for right now, during this time in the wilderness ahead, it’s finally happened.

I have nothing more to say.

©2011 Jeff A Walker. All Rights Reserved.


Photo credit.


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