I suspect ministry has unconsciously prepared me for the silence of retirement. At present, many of my days are spent in the complete absence of sound. I read. I write. I paint. I take long drives, and capture lovely photos. All of which are done alone, and in silence. This is just how I like it, and, to be perfectly honest, exactly how I need it to be. I love the hush of these retirement days, and think of them as holy. As if God has spoken, and said, “Shush!”
Many of us grow weary of words, all the silly efforts to explain and defend and impress. All the sentences constructed to erect a purpose or point where there is none. It is exhausting to listen to conversations you have heard a trillion times before in slightly altered variations. It is near impossible to listen anymore to the lies being passed off as interesting stories. Towers of babble, like Christmas letters which strive to scrape the heavens with tales of fabricated happiness.
By the time we retire, many of us -- I suspect most ministers -- cannot wait for the quelling of sound. There is splendor in pushing the mute button, when one has been forced to listen to a steady drone of chaos and complaint. I say this still filled with compassion for those who must string words together like popcorn Christmas trim, only to find the result rather blah and preferably eaten. It is, however, simply a spiritual fact, that the noisiness of our lives creates a deep yearning in our soul for the void of sound.
I am at that point, and in this place. Most days I’d prefer not to talk. I have little to say. Even less trust in my ability to be interesting. I have few new ideas, and just a trace of occasional wisdom or insight. Little that I say is truly funny. I am a good storyteller, but my stories are melting like an ice cream cone in August.
And so it is with much of what I hear as well, a style of fiction, a sentimentally glorified romance novel, with the absence of facts or honesty. My attempts at telling the truth have grown dull and boring, tasteless in their attempt to entertain, and offering so little of that which might inspire or ignite the spirit.
I do have the occasional good conversation. I do listen to a really good story now and then. I am inspired by a great quote, line or comment. But, on the whole, I like what the silence has to say far better than the human mouth. I love listening to an author speak to me from out of the pages of a great book. I love to witness the messages of joy on a child’s face. I consume so much in just one glance of nature’s raw beauty – the simplicity of light and shadows having such a dramatic impact on a scene.
The biblical tower of Babel, a tower built by God-players, hell bent on speaking with God face to face. God makes the tower crumble. God also leaves the God-players babbling like idiots as they pick through the shards of their egos. These days I enjoy a babbling brook. Now, that has something to say. Of course, it is also just another reminder that we are not God, which I now receive as a blessed reprieve.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.