One Square Inch of Silence is a research project in Olympia National Park in Washington State. It’s a small red stone on top of a moss-covered log three miles down a hiking trail, at a spot identified as “the quietest place in the United States.” The purpose is to highlight differences between human noise and natural sounds, including the effects of noise and silence on the environment.
Silence is hard to come by in the modern world. We’re relentlessly surrounded by cell-phones, piped-in music, engine noises, and multimedia clamoring. Yet as Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” which certainly includes “a time to be silent” (vv. 1, 7).
The Moody Bible Commentary notes that the items on the list in this passage are merisms, “a literary device highlighting the totality of something by indicating its two extremes and everything in between.” To say there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” captures the complexity of life and the necessity of wisdom. Sometimes the right thing to do is to speak, but sometimes the right thing to do is the opposite—to be silent. Wisdom is knowing which is which, the right thing at the right place at the right time. Wisdom comes from God, the One who sees the big picture and the One who has ordained all seasons (Prov. 9:10).
Our topic this month is silence, both its positive and negative aspects. We’ll explore this biblical theme in ways that contribute to our spiritual growth and knowledge of God. In a world awash in words and noise and a culture that often sees silence as unproductive or troubling, we’ll see what Scripture teaches about human and divine silence.
As you begin this study, pray for God’s blessing, especially the blessing of learning what He would have you learn. Sometimes we’ve already made up our minds and only look to Scripture to confirm what we already think we know. But through His Word God might want to teach us something new or surprising this month. Are we ready?