My wife and I are still in Israel, trying to get a flight out. We went quiet for a few days on Facebook, and people were asking if we were safe. As I am processing what we are experiencing, the soul trait that is most applicable is Silence.
Because sometimes there are no words. What can you say to the murder of hundreds of people? Entire families wiped out?
What to say after watching distraught family members crying on tv in a language I largely don’t understand? What to say about refugee children burst into tears as we walk into the safe area during a rocket attack? The words we say really matter. And for this I have no words. Last year in my Chaplaincy training, we were learned that being present with someone is far more important than talking. We strive to create a safe space for them to process.
I am touched that so many people who have checked in. “Thinking of you and checking in” offers presence and care. I have been bewildered how to answer those who ask if I am safe. I am in a country at war, with missiles flying. I am ok in an area that is relatively ok. But safe?
Silence is the sound of a closed hotel kitchen, no longer serving dinner because the cooks were called into service. Silence is the empty beaches.
Silence also governs speech and other holy sounds. Laughter from children finding toys as they explore the hotel. The relief and black humor from their resilient parents, who are happy we have 90 seconds to get to the shelter instead of 10 seconds like they did in the South.
I had questions for people who on Facebook who said they are praying for peace. The words we say matter. And this is a time to think and contemplate before we speak or write.
“What do you mean by peace?” I might ask. I have more thoughts, but I’m not sure they will benefit either me or you if I share them. So Silence reigns.