The ??Silence?? of the City

Saturday and Sunday morning’s in Washington, you’ll notice something unusual in Washington.  Listen carefully, can you hear it?  You may well respond, “I can’t hear anything.”  And that is precisely the point.  It first struck me when I was a college student at GW.  Sunday mornings I would trundle down to the alley kitchen at the end of our dorm hallway at 22 and H to make breakfast for friends.  From the window came a pleasant breeze and …silence.  Again, recently when walking in the city: by some quirk of traffic light timers I was standing at an intersection with NO cars… and it was blessedly silent.

Much of DC is purely residential: neighborhoods like Woodley/Cleveland Park, Brookland, Brightwood… but even mixed areas like Foggy Bottom are blessed with quiet weekend mornings because the government is closed and our socially active neighbors are sleeping in from last night.  What a blessing!  Why?

Some thoughts on silence, rising from reflections by Fr. Romano Guardini (a literary hero of mine):

To begin with: in DC we talk…and talk and talk… words are very important to us.  But well-formed well-meant words only emerge from silence.  Silence is also the best milieu to receive and actively consider the words of others… and this, we call communication.  As Washingtonians we pride ourselves on the value of our communication skills, but are we actually communicating or just making noise?  Many of our neighbors would assert the former.  How can we improve communication?  Ironically, the answer is: more silence.

For those who desire to follow Christ, silence is particularly important.  In John, Chapter 6, Jesus says, “Who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to me.”  Listening, learning… both require silence.  Silence is that clean-swept upper room of our heart that we make ready to receive Jesus… the more of or noise that we sweep out, the more of his Word he can fill in.   Enjoy the silence of Washington weekends… there might be more there than you first realize.