Three years ago I interviewed Jay Taylor, director of spiritual formation for the Pentecostal Assemblies of God seminary in Springfield, Mo. His students had been spending some weekends at a remote Trappist monastery. Taylor said the formation team was not interested in creating monks but wanted its students to learn the importance of inward-directed spiritual disciplines.
The monasterys Catholicism, its chanting, statues, icons, woolen robes, scapulars and incense, he said, were not as alien to the seminarians as the hushed quiet encountered there.
Its more than a little intimidating. Its a shock when they experience their mind flying all over the place, hearing their inside chatter for what it is.
Most of us live in a cacophonous world, and suffer for it in ways were not even aware of. Since the desert fathers and mothers in the early centuries, silence and a quiet mind have held an important place in the Catholic spiritual tradition.
Buddhists say the silence behind creation has a density to it, a physical-ness. It is teeming with possibility and potential. Silence is creative, healing and, most important, gives us wise counsel.