Wait for the Silence

What is the best advice you have ever been given? I asked some friends this question the other day, and one friend replied:

Whatever you do, wait for the silence.

She said she had been told this when she was a newly qualified teacher, and subsequent experience in front of classes had shown it was sound advice. It is all about respect, she said. If students are talking, they are not showing you the respect you both deserve and need.

I have worked for twenty years as a storyteller, and I always wait for the silence too. I will not start until it comes, and then, when I am telling the story, I will play with silence, especially if it is a ghost story. If I run all the words together, there will be no room for the ghosts. 

I want my listeners’ imaginations to run wild. So I tell them the night was dark… and the road was long… and the ghosts were coming. That’s enough. Stories come alive in the space between the words.

And I believe this advice works well in life too. Sometimes when I am faced with a decision, I cannot think for the chatter inside my head. Choices, consequences, possibilities, outcomes … What to do for the best?

That is the time to stop and wait for the silence. Into that still space, Wisdom will come and her quiet voice will be heard. In our hearts, we always know what is the best thing to do. 

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