Silence as a Weapon in the War With the World
About half way through the summer, I was exhausted and addicted. My obsession with knowing what was going on everywhere was destroying my ability to be present in any particular moment.
As soon as I had arrived in D.C. this summer, I realized I didn’t understand an enormous amount about the world and history. I started spending my spare time researching the history of American politics, and became obsessed with always knowing the latest news.
That’s when I began asking questions. Why do I have to know the instant something happens? Why can’t I wait an hour, two hours, to get the facts correct? Absolutely nothing about my life changes because I wait slightly longer to find out what President Trump said in Finland.
Not only did I learn that the news is addicting, but it’s nearly always depressing. Even in my down time, there seemed to be no escaping the news. The darkness of the world seemed to encroach on every aspect of my life. I became anxious at times and couldn’t explain why.
And that’s when I would go to prayer. That’s when I needed silence.
Darkness and Silence
The world needs, more than anything, moments of silence. Pascal once wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
For this alone time is where we really encounter ourselves. Whenever I took the time to sit in a quiet chapel, I became aware of my own self-absorption and how easily I fell prey to the world’s lies. The world, no matter how hard it tried to keep me informed about everything going on, failed to tell me about the rainbow after the storm.
Without waiting for the rainbow, life can appear dark and depressing. When I failed to reflect on everything happening in the news, I missed the beautiful part of staying informed: seeing God’s hand at work in life.
It was only in those moments of prayer that I was able to re-ground myself in the truth of the Gospel. God’s story is so much larger than anything we can see, and every news story fits into it with precision. His overarching perspective makes the shadows seem small.
Running the Race and Fighting the Fight
After a summer in Washington, D.C., the concept of spiritual warfare means far to me than it ever did. Darkness is real, and we are engaged in a fight against the passivity brought on by despair. Choosing to fight and to love is much more difficult than remaining passive with everyone else. Yet that is what we’re called to do.
As much as I hate to admit it, there were days I chose not to pray. The voices of the world were strong. I didn’t want to walk to a church to find solitude. I didn’t want to stay home and risk having my roommate see me pray (how terrible!).
Immediately after leaving D.C., I stayed at a friend’s house for a few weeks. Within the first few days, we had established a workout routine, which involved a half mile run warmup.
I had been running three miles every few days on the National Mall all summer. Yet somehow, I found myself tired after just half a mile with my friend. Then I realized: I had run longer all summer because of how slowly I had been running, with no one beside me to spark a challenge. I hadn’t lapsed in my commitment to running. But I also hadn’t improved at all from where I began the summer.
A Community of Faith
I knew I had missed having a community to support me in my faith. Yet I surprised myself with just how much joy I experienced in having one friend run beside me. That’s when I came face-to-face with the reality that I need fellow runners to keep my eyes fixed forward rather than all around me.
I understand now that there is no getting out of this run, of this war. I’m already part of the fight to win souls back from the apathy of the world. I’m in the news cycle and I care about what happens to the world, even if that wasn’t my objective back in May.
My secret weapon is silence. We who are part of a faith community can only combat the darkness in one way: through our prayer and reflection. Only then can we distinguish God’s voice from the world’s.
The world does not speak through silence. Only Christ does.
Allegra Thatcher was a summer intern at The Stream.