The beauty in silence

Learning how to effectively still your mind is a gift

By The Revd Canon Andrew Wright

Recently I was asked to lead a workshop on silence and meditation in my local church. As I admitted to the group there, I have never been very good at silence. I am happier with noise, and sometimes find that silence simply allows anxiety to come to the surface.

Learning how to be silent and to use silence is, however, a very important thing, not least on board ship. We need it, even if we find it uncomfortable at first. How do we use it? Sometimes, if I am lying awake at night, worrying perhaps, I try to fix my mind on some remembered words. Occasionally I find myself thinking about a little song I learnt in childhood, perhaps in my Sunday School classes.

Having some special Bible verses in your head can also be a real help in stilling your mind and helping you to focus. One I use is the first Bible verse I was ever made to learn, Galatians 5:22 – “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” These are good things to meditate on and good things to throw around our minds. I guess the best of human qualities have rarely been summarised better. This is the way of life, modelled by Jesus, to which God calls us.

Maybe in silent times you just want to take one of those qualities. For me, this month, in the face of war and conflict, which has had such a devastating and brutal impact on so many, including many seafarers and their families, I would choose the word ‘gentleness’. Surely greater ‘gentleness’ in all of us would transform the world? How can we model ‘gentleness’ in our homes and in our work communities? How can we contribute to a gentler world? Surely that is something that can nourish our silent times, improve our relationships and inspire our prayers.

The Revd Canon Andrew Wright is secretary general of The Mission to Seafarers.

A prayer for seafarers

Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle, the strength to be forgiving and the patience to be understanding.

Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy to the task of making peace.