There is a silence that stills and calms, that builds and creates. A stillness that makes space for the Spirit, for the self, for the tender work of undoing, for the plowing under of tired ideas. Yes, please. I want to sign on for that kind of silence, the one that opens and releases.
There is also a silence that kills, whether by intention or not, it kills. We went to a matinee yesterday and saw a truly magnificent film called, “Railway Man,” starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgard. Rarely have I seen such a powerful depiction of the kind of silence that kills than the one we saw in this moving true story about the power of forbidden memories to permanently cripple the human spirit. Only when he looks hard at the past is the railway man free from it.
The past few days, I have been brought low by a different kind of silence, this one the silence of neglect and privilege and a profound unwillingness to look at what is truly ugly in this world. On April 14, nearly 300 young women, living at a boarding school in Nigeria, were kidnapped by a terrorist military group, taken off into the night, most of them never to be seen again. The western news media, at least on our continent, was silent.
There has been a lot of noise about Donald Sterling, some of it deserved. There has been a lot of coverage about the downed Malaysian airliner that will not be found. There has been a lot of deafening silence about these girls, the hope for the future, the brightest and the best. They were taken because they had the audacity to try and grow, to learn, to become fully human. They were taken because they are girls and therefore ‘deserve’ nothing better than to be sold on the open market. Until the last few days, there has been not one word about any of it.
And yet, we spend so many words on old men with foul mouths, on ‘beautiful’ people with way too much money and way too little intelligence. We — and I mean ME — don’t hear what we don’t like, don’t see what we don’t want to see, and try to protect ourselves from the terrible truth that humankind is capable of immense evil, and that such evil, left unremarked, will destroy everything and everyone in its path.
Yesterday’s matinee was a reminder that the underbelly must be looked at, reckoned with and walked through if there is to be hope for wholeness. So some of us are choosing to highlight this truth by doing a small act of . . . silence.
In honor of these young women, remembering that each and every one has a mother desperate for reunion, several of us who blog regularly will go silent on Mother’s Day. This blog is one of those, and it will not be accessible for those 24 hours. Instead, there will be a link to a magnificent post written by Deidra Riggs (and made available through the technical and empathetic abilities of Lyla Lindquist) which outlines why we’re observing this silence on this day.
Silence in the blogosphere does not mean silence in our hearts, in our minds, even in our mouths. So, I encourage you to pray, to sign petitions, to speak the truth in love and bring these girls — and all those who are captive — to freedom, to home, to hope.