Senior Head's Blog: Silence is Precious


We live in a world where there is almost constant human made noise (and light).  This is not the way that the world has always been, and it might just be that this is not good for us.  I have just finished reading Erling Kagge’s book ‘Silence in the Age of Noise’.  Erling is a pretty extraordinary person, a Norwegian explorer who once spent 50 days walking solo across Antarctica with no contact with humanity, after his radio was broken.  He knows a thing or two about silence!  He was also the first person ever to achieve the treble of reaching North Pole, South Pole and the summit of Mt Everest.

In our daily lives, screens, alerts, calls, traffic, even music can impact on almost every waking moment.  Kagge insists that this prevents us from being in the moment of our lives, from being able to think with complete focus and clarity and reducing the quality of our lives as a result of this.  Silence is precious.  

There is a wonderful chorus in the Depeche Mode song 'Enjoy the Silence', as the singer imagines embracing the person he loves, and in doing so captures the power of silence:

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very 

Perhaps you can remember standing at the top of a mountain, perhaps you have walked alone in a forest, or just woken early before anybody else around you.  I remember my first skiing trip in the Alps, when I found myself on the last chairlift up the mountain, and stood at the top (or what felt like the top!) with nobody else around, contemplating exactly how I was going to get down the slope - it wasn't very elegant, I certainly remember that.  I also remember a night in rural Namibia, several hours drive from the nearest town, where we could watch the stars move slowly across the night sky in the clearest sky imaginable.   These moments can be incredibly powerful.  

This is why we have so much respect for moments of silence - think of when we pause to remember those who gave their lives in war. It isn’t easy to be silent, and especially not in a place that can be as busy as Felsted, but it is a precious thing.  It is also very important that we respect the silence of others.  

This is why we ask people to be quiet coming in to Chapel.  This is a place for quiet reflection, and in a room of 500 people, we can only achieve silence when all 500 people are silent.  It is not an easy thing to achieve, and it is an easy thing to break.  Noise is easy. Silence is precious, and it is important for all of us to find a moment of silence among the chaos and cluster of daily life.  

Have a very good weekend, and I hope that many of you will be able to join us for the Carol Service on Thursday evening next week (15 December, 7:30pm), where there will be some silence, but also some wonderful singing from our choir, as we remind ourselves of the Christmas story.

Chris Townsend,
Head, Felsted