Embracing silence in a noisy world


“Speak gently to the young, for they will have enough to bear; pass through this life as best they may, ’tis full of anxious care.

Speak gently to the aged ones, grieve not the care-worn heart; their sands of life are nearly run, let such in peace depart.”

– Anonymous

Do you ever get the feeling that our world is far too noisy?

The news, even on a typical day, seems filled with loud, testy people who feel the need to express their every thought, their every complaint.

It makes us all weary, I am convinced of it.

With the war raging on the other side of the world, more than ever it would be nice to embrace silence, and in that silence hold good thoughts for those who have been placed in harm’s way.

True gems. These thoughts prompted me to look up a small book that I have kept for years, Simple Wisdom: Shaker Sayings, Poems and Songs by Kathleen Mahoney.

Some of the gems of truth contained inside the covers of that book are listed:

“They that laugh at every thing, and they that fret at every thing, are fools alike.”

“All truths must not be told at all times.”

“Have the courage to speak your mind when it is necessary you should do so.”

“Truths like roses have thorns about them.”

“Never open the door to a little vice, lest a great one should enter too.”

“Revenge is a mean pleasure.”

Shaker life. The lives of the Shakers, the American religious sect that flourished in the 19th century, thrived on simplicity.

They believed in simple boxes, chairs and other handcrafted objects they produced in their work rooms.

They also believed in simplicity in other matters – matters of the heart. There were no complications in their views on human relationships – they believed in racial and sexual equality long before society even contemplated such things.

They believed in honoring Mother Earth, conservation of resources, and pacifism – all values that are as meaningful and appropriate today as when much of the writings in this simple book were first written.

One of my favorites, dated 1813, is this:

Improve each moment as it flies, Now in this blessed day;

So run that we may win the prize, There’s danger in delay.

This day, this hour may be the last, For death is sure to all,

And not a single minute past, Can any soul recall.

O Lord, may every breath be drawn In prayer, in thanks or praise,

That I may say, when time is gone, I’ve well improved my days.


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