To begin with, here are two stories, each making essentially the same point but from slightly different perspectives.
The first is one we’ve all heard in one form or another. Two friends meet and begin to chat. After a time, the first guy asks the second guy what he thinks of a man, to whom he was only recently introduced, but whom his friend has known well for years.
His friend replies, “My mother always told me that, if you can’t say something nice about someone, you should say nothing at all.” With that, he turns and walks away without saying another word.
The second story is less familiar. A group of people are visiting a monastery. The abbot-in-charge, who has given the visitors a tour of the buildings and grounds, asks the group if there are any questions.
One young woman raises her hand, and the abbot invites her question.
“I noticed,” she says, “that the monks are very quiet. They seem to speak only rarely, whether at work, at a meal, or even in worship. Have they taken a vow of silence which prohibits them from talking?”
“The brothers have taken no vow of silence,” the abbot replies. “We have together agreed, however, that we will only speak at those times when, by speaking, we can improve on the silence.”
Each of those stories, in its own way, helps to explain why I have been essentially silent for the past month. And why I am likely to lapse into periods of silence, so far as the blog is concerned, in the future.
I have been sharing my thoughts, fairly regularly, by way of this blog for twenty months (since October 2011). I have tried to make the content as substantive and informative as possible. I’ve also tried to make it interesting. You will have to judge the relative success I have achieved in realizing those goals.
Since the overarching purpose for this blog is to record “one pilgrim’s quest for authentic faith and some reflections on the journey,” I have tried to be as honest and forthcoming and transparent as I could be, within the bounds of propriety and good taste. Sometimes that has meant that I’ve needed to record some of my doubts, my fears, and my discouragements.
Several months ago, after more than one reader commented on the persistent negative tone and a sense of lamentation in several posts, I pledged to do everything I could to keep that sort of post to the absolute minimum needed to lend credibility and authenticity to my “relentless pursuit.” Accordingly, I determined that, rather than overwhelm my readers with frequent reminders of my struggle to make sense of my circumstances and the discouragement which that struggle seemed to produce, I would write nothing at all if I could not write something positive and uplifting.
That’s why I have been silent for the better part of a month. I have seen a few slivers of light, have experienced some glimmers of hope, and I have reported them in my last few posts. Through most of the past month, however, I have been all but overwhelmed by a sense of futility and hopelessness.
I am glad to say that my most recent encounter with discouragement seems to have passed, at least for now, and my frame of mind is markedly improved. I expect to return to the blogosphere with some regularity in the next few days.
I do love this communication tool, and I am grateful to live in an era in which it is possible to share thoughts and feelings and observations so readily and to receive feedback, at least potentially, so quickly. The medium is misused, however, and, in my opinion, even abused by those who apparently believe that, since it is possible to communicate so easily to so many people, therefore they must do it with excessive frequency, irrespective of the quality of their writing, the subject matter of their posts, or the danger that they will undermine their own effectiveness through over-exposure.
As I have said before, I do not write for my own amusement. I write to communicate with my readers. I am grateful for each and every one of you, and I don’t take for granted that you will always read what I write here, no matter what it is.
In the future, I will continue to strum the one note with which I am virtually obsessed… i.e. the need for a church which recognizes its role as the agent of the kingdom of God. Yes, I have been going through some difficult times lately, but God has still been speaking to me, through scripture and through other channels as well. I have a good deal to write about, and I hope to get back to it soon.
I will try to honor my pledge. If I can’t write something challenging and edifying and instructive and encouraging, I will keep my lamentation to myself, mostly. And I further pledge that I shall try to limit my communication to that which I honestly believe can improve, at least a bit, on my silence.
Soli Deo Gloria.