As Covid-19 restrictions ease and we return gradually back to lives resembling the ones we each led two years ago, Principal Louise North used her Chapel address to speak to pupils and staff members about the importance of silence to her personally and how she actively seeks periods of solitude to think and reflect. Read the full address below:
By Louise North
Rev Baymann suggested that I might talk to you today about the Holy Spirit, but the truth is, I didn’t really feel qualified to do so. The Holy Spirit is something, in truth, that I do not understand. I am not sure how I can explain that although I do not understand it, I can’t touch it or see it, I nevertheless do believe in it.
Instead, I thought I would reflect briefly on silence. This is something I do understand far more; especially in terms of the power that it can have.
How many of us enjoy silence? How many of us feel the need to fill the silence that might descend when in the company of other people? Who amongst us feels embarrassed when silence falls?
I have always enjoyed silence. Perhaps that is because I grew up in a noisy and large family, with siblings, cats, dogs and lots of activity. Don’t get me wrong, I was very noisy at times, I used to enjoy retreating to my bedroom or to my treehouse, taking Mittens, my fat tabby cat with me.
I enjoyed the quiet. I relish that time alone. I enjoyed the stillness, I enjoyed sitting silently listening only to my thoughts – to quote Anne of Green Gables. And I still do. No music, no phone, no voices, no TV, just me and my thoughts. I am not sure that this would be considered meditation given that I struggle to empty my head of my thoughts, but I do enjoy the peace that descends around me.
Silence allows you to take stock, to reflect, to just be, without having to explain yourself or do anything. Silence takes you away from the hurly burly of the day. It can be soothing, comforting, and calming.
Silence can be spiritual, and it can connect you to the intangible, otherness of our world. Silence can be a time for prayer, articulating your thoughts and asking for some help or guidance.
But silence can also be simply for rest and reflection.
Sometimes I need to better understand things, or I need time for an idea to swirl around my head a little.
Sometimes I have had a tough conversation, or I have been upset.
Silence seems to help me move things forward. I don’t know how it works, but it usually helps me to find the answer that I have been looking for.
Sometimes, it is solitude rather than total silence that brings a similar result. I love being on my own, whether on a windy beach or high on a hill.
Whatever the magic that exists in silence, I know that it is there when I need it. I would encourage you all to seek out silence, not to be afraid of it, but to make use of it. This Chapel is one of many good places to find that silence, whether you are spiritual or not. It doesn’t matter. Embrace the opportunity to be still and silent with your thoughts and see where it takes you.