Bob Rudd - North Beach, Iona

Silence is Golden

We are surrounded by noise; it’s everywhere, all around us. People chattering on their mobiles, motor bikes, cars and lorries – all rushing hither and yon. All trying to be somewhere faster than the person in front.


Silence, they say, is golden. For some people, of course, silence is not an option: for the deaf, music, for instance, is something they can only imagine. And while they may be unaware of the hubbub of the everyday, neither can they ever experience the sounds of nature. For other folk, silence can be threatening; maybe because they are so used to noise all around them. But for some of us silence – or at least the absence of noise – can provide a welcome opportunity to reconnect with the living world around us: living, rather than livedin.


At the end of May my wife and I, along with two very good friends, spent a week on the tiny island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. Iona has been described as a ‘thin place, where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual’.


With few inhabitants and even fewer vehicles on the island, a silence descends when the last ferry has sailed back to Mull with its visitor passengers; a silence that is broken only by birds and the waves rising

and falling gently along the shoreline, or by the occasional howling winds or driving rain. Nature at its best, most natural, most powerful. Just as God planned it. When Elijah encountered God on Mount Horeb, he experienced a great wind, then an earthquake, then a fire…and after that a ‘sound of sheer silence’ (1 Kings 19:12). It was only then that Elijah heard the voice of God speaking to him.


Hearing is not the same as listening, and vice versa. We should maybe sometimes find some quiet space and let our minds drift to listen for…who knows what?


Just as God planned it.


Just as it should be.


Revd Gary Williamson

Photo of Iona

Iona sunset