One of life’s most healing and simplest gifts is silence. In one way, I can claim it easily: get away from the blaring TV, turn off the cellphone and the radio, shut down the computer, and get some distance from the buzz and hum of activity. It’s what Jesus described as “entering the closet and closing the door.” Just leave the noise behind.

I most often enter the silence early in the morning, before appointments and meetings begin. Nearly every day, no matter the weather, I will spend a few minutes on our little back porch, breathing the fresh air and inhaling the spirit. William Stafford once said that, even when most pressed (and oppressed), if a person gets up early enough, he or she can be free. The early morning breezes are like winds of liberation, sweeping a person into peace.

Other times, I walk my way into the silence. At least once a day, I leave the office, walk through downtown and try to let go, for a few minutes, of whatever it is that clamors for my attention. Years ago, my teacher Glenn Hinson, spoke of his praying while he walked to and from work, and I have followed his example. My walking prayers are not ones in which I “say” very much; instead, I attempt to listen deeply enough to listen past the cacophony of life’s demands to the Grace and Love which are at the Center of things.

The challenge is not so much the outer noise, of course, but the endless inner chatter, the constant internal static, that makes genuine silence elusive. But, even that noise recedes after a while, and what is left is the still, small voice of Love: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”