Passionless Passion & Wild Tranquility

One rainy, autumn day, I came home and felt a greeting. There was no one in my apartment. It was all silent and still, except for the falling rain and rustling of the pines. And yet, I felt a greeting by that same silence. An invitation akin to a dialogue you’d have with someone else. This “other” being my own self.

Through interior reflection, I have recently discerned a growing desire to learn about the nature of silence, and the ways which my life should be more conducive towards it. As a technologist and constant learner, information is almost always flowing though my mind, forming ideas and thoughts, compelling me to action. As such, I grow restless, and in that restlessness, more thoughts and ideas prop up, repeating an endless cycle of noise.

In his Pensée, Blaise Pascal wrote that, “all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” How often have you found yourself like this? How often do we find ourselves fiddling for our phones or seeking something to get distracted with? The way I see it, our society has devolved into a utilitarian economy, where people derive meaning from how much they produce, and accumulate. I am no exception. I too have dwelt in these false notions of functionalism and activism, in the sense that I only derive my self-worth from how much I create.

The fact of the matter is this this is not a Christian way to see the world. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that God is ipsum esse substantium, the very act of being itself. God just is. That’s why in Exodus He reveals to Moses His name as “I am who I am.” Being as we are, that is, being in silence, takes effort. There’s a struggle in our minds and hearts when we find that there’s nothing else to do, when we’re bored, when we feel that we’re lacking in attention.

One morning I went out to eat brunch with my sister and as soon as we sat down I scrolled through my Twitter. To my chagrin, my sister quickly took my phone with the same disdain as a parent would take a fragile object from an infant’s hand. Immediately I felt annoyed and felt compelled to ask for it back, but then I saw her put my phone alongside hers at the edge of the table and looked at me with inquisitive eyes. That’s when I got it. I was acting out an addiction to noise, failing to see that in the silence between us siblings there’s the calming notion that we currently are, and are sharing time together.

Let’s dive into the deep quiet of ourselves. Let us plunge into that dark desert, unexplored, endless by its very nature. We may find hidden within it our precious Creator, waiting lovingly for us to call. This cannot be accomplished through an emotional experience,  inspiring talk or riveting speech; but instead in a quiet place, with a searching attitude, away from the horizontal dimension of time and instead unto one that transcends vertically to the world beyond.

In the words of Fulton Sheen, “God will take anyone who is willing to love, not with an occasional gesture, but with a ‘passionless passion,’ a ‘wild tranquility.'” In other words, within the Silence of our hearts.

 

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