For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. PS 62:5 ESV
Be still, and know that I am God. PS 46:10a
We live in a world of near constant noise and distraction. For many of us, our days consist of being ceaselessly bombarded by sounds and images of multiple origins and intents. The sheer amount of information we are exposed to on a daily basis in our world of modern technology and advancement can be truly staggering. In this day and age, silence has become a rare commodity and something that must be sought after.
Sigurd F. Olson was one of the foremost ecologists of the 20th century and a powerful proponent of the value of wilderness for the health of the spirit of humanity. From his beloved hometown of Ely Minnesota, he explored much of the wild north country in what is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. He was instrumental to its protection and preservation for future generations. In his classic work, The Singing Wilderness, Olson writes: “Over all was the silence of the wilderness, that sense of oneness which comes only when there are no distracting sights or sounds, when we listen with inward ears and see with inward eyes, when we feel and are aware with our entire beings rather than our senses. I thought as I sat there of the ancient admonition ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ and knew that without stillness there can be no knowing, without divorcement from outside influences man cannot know what spirit means.”
Olson helped to articulate for the modern era what King David understood long ago; silence is crucial to seeking and knowing God. This ancient spiritual discipline has been all but forgotten by many in the Church today. We can so easily become inundated by the incessant stream of noise and information in society that a detox of sorts becomes desperately needed, an emptying of our souls in order to be filled by God. The silence of the wilderness can be a powerful conduit for the work of God in the hearts of men and women.
Tomorrow I plan to get on a plane to travel to Ely Minnesota and the boundary waters for a personal solo time of four days. Inspired by the words of Olson and King David, I sense deep within me a desire to see with inward eyes and hear with inward ears what only the silence of the wilderness can speak. It doesn’t take a journey to a wilderness area to experience the power of silence in nature. It does however usually take some intentionality. May you find some time this week for a few moments of silence to be still and know that He is God.