In an NYT op-ed piece by Michael McGirr, the dean of faith at St.Kevin’s College, he exhorts us to take silence and sleep more seriously. In a culture where young people are constantly hearing messages that they aren’t good enough or doing enough, they are riddled with anxiety and exhaustion. Mr. McGirr takes his incoming student leaders to a Cistercian monastery where a group of monks live in almost complete silence, “pursuing a lifestyle that has not changed much since the 11th century.” The prior of the abbey believes “that the world doesn’t have as much to say as it thinks it does. His life involves listening to deep silence,” something the young students find hard to wrap their heads around.”
Mr. McGirr reminds us that the Bible is filled with prophets who were all deep listeners: Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammed. Many sacred texts also have a deep respect for sleep, that time in our day/night when we surrender control, release our egos, and begin to listen to other parts of ourselves and our worlds. McGirr ends his article by reminding us that there are worse things to do than nothing.
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