By Cassidy Hall
On the days when I can’t find a break or a simple pause, saying to myself, “Silence is everywhere” would throw me into a quick rage. But, on days like today—days where I am filled by every moment in-between, days when each gaze out the window creates a renewal—I can acknowledge that silence really is everywhere and is also the place of my belonging.
In my experience, there’s so much to hold within silence that it often becomes overwhelming. Days like today remind me that’s because everything is in it. Everything is in the silence. Of course it feels like too much. Silence beholds the fullness of myself, the fullness of my fellow human, our belonging, infinite possibility, the meeting place of us all. And, silence hosts my wandering thoughts––which don’t always lean toward the delightful side of things.
So I must remind myself to go slow. be gentle. and ease my way into the silence. No one is an expert in its unfathomable spaciousness, its infinite mystery, or even why such a place of respite can also be a place of mental torment. (As a side note, if silence is something that causes great distress, I don’t recommend it. Therapy can be a helpful tool to re-engage with the beauty of silence in your life.)
Much of my work and scholarship has centered on silence—not the kind that can’t be found but the kind that can shake us into knowing ourselves, or the toxic silences of recognizing when we are oppressing another through our dominative voice, silencing another, or even silencing ourselves.
My podcasts include Contemplating Now on the Christian Century which features conversations exploring the intersection of contemplation and social justice. Prior to this podcast, however, I began co-hosting Encountering Silence with two dear friends, which is now in its fourth year of production.
My films also focus on the tensions beheld in noise/silence, images, and contemplative moments. In 2015, I worked on the production team of the feature-length In Pursuit of Silence, directed by award-winning filmmaker, Patrick Shen. And, more recently, I completed my directorial debut film, Day of a Stranger, about Thomas Merton’s hermitage years, which won the audience choice award at Illuminate Film Festival.
You can watch the trailer for Day of a Stranger here, which features the voice of Thomas Merton:
The trailer for In Pursuit of Silence is here:
And so, I keep chasing her—Silence.
Because she is everywhere and nowhere.
Because she hosts nothing and everything.
Because, for me, her resuscitation outweighs her tantrums.