By TIM LILLEY
JOURNEY OF FAITH
Checking email the other day, this subject line greeted me:
Half of Hoosiers say they have suffered from ‘quiet stress’ this year, reveals survey
That unsettled me; it should unsettle all of us – for a couple of reasons.
First, it suggests we all might do more to mitigate others’ feeling so lonely and disconnected due to social-distancing and the need to do everything possible to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Second, it suggests that we all need to acknowledge and embrace the positive way “quiet” can impact our lives – if we use it in prayer and/or prayerful reflection.
I found this quote online, attributed to St. Mother Teresa: “I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks. God is the friend of silence – we need to listen to God because it's not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters.”
So I asked myself, why does quiet stress people so? Maybe this quote, attributed to St. Augustine, provides a starting point for the answer: “Remember this. When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold. When people choose to withdraw far from light, the light continues to be bright in itself, but they are in darkness. This is also the case when people withdraw from God.”
Can you help someone begin to see how quiet can help them draw closer to the fire of God’s mercy and love? Can you help them begin to see how quiet can light up their lives?
Can you, yourself, see and understand those concepts?
In and of itself, quiet isn’t bad. And from here, it never should be bad, dark, cold or negative.
The press release reporting this survey included the following: “It appears that being isolated ranks high up as a stress trigger for many people, as over a quarter (28 percent) of respondents say the thing that has made them the most stressed this year is social distancing and loneliness.”
Friends, please join me in using some Advent time to check on others. Help them see how they can turn the “quiet stress” they might feel into the light and warmth of God’s mercy and love. Remind them – and yourself – that “it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks.”