The sound of silence

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Revelations Chapters 7 through 10

This week’s reading is found in Revelations chapter 8:1. “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Simon and Garfunkel wrote a famous song, “The sound of silence.” It is a song about people talking but no one listening. But this half hour of silence seems to be a good thing. It is a reference to a dramatic pause to symbolize the awe and dread with which the heavenly hosts await the events about to occur. The hushed thirty-minute silence makes the judgments about to be announced more dreaded. Imagine thirty minutes of silence to contemplate what is about to happen!

Today we live in a loud and distracting world, where silence is increasingly difficult to come by and that may be negatively affecting our health. In fact, a 2011 World Health Organization report called noise pollution a “modern-day plague” concluding that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.” We’re constantly filling our ears with music, TV and radio news, podcasts. Think about it. How many moments each day do you spend in total silence? The answer is probably very few. I actually think some people are afraid of silence! But silence is a good thing. A 2006 study published in the journal Heart found two minutes of silence to be more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music, based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.⁠1 Quiet times help us gather our thoughts, and can often be times for God’s Holy Spirit to speak to us. If a half hour of silence is good enough in heaven surely it can be beneficial on earth. Why not build some quiet time into your lives and see what happens.

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1 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/silence-brain-benefits_us_56d83967e4b0000de4037004

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