Father Steve says…

Melissa Ann Howell Schier
6 min readMar 6, 2023

March 6 2023

Some of the most profound things are witnessed in silence. At least that is what Father Steve says.
Like sunrises, babies forming in the womb, flowers blooming… all these things are observed by us in complete and utter silence.

Father Steve is reading a book about the pursuit of silence, or the destruction of noise. I can’t recall the exact name of the book but he was talking about how the author thinks “noise” is like any addiction that is keeping us from examining the “truth” in our hearts. An honest “self appraisal” is what we must do, in the silence of our souls, in order to find peace and tranquility.
He said that noise deprives us of this opportunity. The noise of screens, the noise of phones, the noise of too much talking and not enough listening are all contraindicated, if peace is the “prescription”.

Prayer, he said, is when we are talking to God, but reading the scriptures is when we are “listening”. It is the listening, that requires us to be silent.

It was ten pm. last night when I thought about this, and so, in an attempt to take to heart, this powerful and uplifting idea, of Father Steve’s, I sat in bed and did NOT turn to look at my phone or at my computer. I just looked at the art on the walls of my mom’s house where I am visiting from Texas. As I go back in time in my mind’s eye, I can see a painting in front of me, and it was only about six inches wide and four inches tall.

I see in the painting, a building, it is adobe, and has some dark windows and it is resting on a beach, perhaps located in Greece. The sea on the left side, is a beautiful blue and behind the building are some dark brown hills that reach all the way up to the right corner of the canvas, and then in the background, is a white snow covered mountain.

I have never been to Greece so I do not know if there is landscape like this, so I stop trying to figure out where this scene is, and instead think about how it might feel to be on that beach, sitting beside that boat that is dragged up onto the sand.
I can imagine the waves lapping, and feel the warm sun. I can imagine how the sun feels upon the adobe house as I touch the smooth white surface. Looking at art, and becoming absorbed in the view, is something that I understand and I can see the beauty in it, and I view it in silence.

Before I know it, I am hardly able to keep my eyes open, and the next time I open them, it is almost six am. I did not even wake up to go to the bathroom. It was the most peaceful night I have had in a long time. Wow.

Father Steve says that during Lent, the one way to gain inner peace is to “abstain” from some thing that involves one of our five physical senses, and he says it is a challenge for us to do this…AND it is something that I personally describe as “leveling up”.

To abstain from talking too much, and look at others around us more deeply, or to abstain from hearing words that create division or anger and start listening to beautiful music, or to abstain from looking at screens or phones and start looking at sunsets or reading books, are all good examples of paying attention to, and revising, what we are doing with one of our five physical senses…..like being present with those around us. This process can renew us.

My dad told me one time, that he had considered what it would have been like to be a monk, if he had not married and had children. He relished the idea of having profound thoughts and living a life of silence and meditation. Monks do not consider living in silence to be gloomy and are in fact joyful.

We thought that movies about Jesus would also be joyful, so yesterday after church, my sister and mom and I went to see “the Jesus revolution”. The man, Lonnie, in the movie, who wanted to heal people, sat in the rain with the guy Greg, who was running from “pain”, and just sat with him in silence. So we learned that peace and silence appear to also be a qualities of healing others, not just self improvement.

Camaraderie among mankind, apparently, is something that does not always require words, as in the case of the party we all joyfully attended for my sister, the night before. And actions, as in the case of Lonnie in the movie, also were sufficient.

In the movie, in the church, it also showed how the parishioner who supported the welcoming of the “hippies”, did not walk away, but got up and sat in their midst. Instead of being angry about their dirty feet and their lack of shoes, the pastor began washing their feet at the door. Both people were listening to what God wanted them to do, and both responded with kind and loving actions, and not just words.

In my randomly chosen bible verse for today, where I hope to “listen” in silence, I read that “The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us.

In the context of what Father Steve was talking about, I thought that this verse could be a parallel, that might be saying, that our minds, filled with noise, are a place that is “too small” for expansive thinking. Expansive thinking is a “bigger place” and happens in the quiet places, places where people are receptive to what God is saying.

And the verse I picked, in the scripture, 2 kings chapter six, went on to tell a story of how, when they went to build that bigger place, they were able to see things happen, that seemed impossible…like witnessing the iron axe head float.

We can witness the profound, yet seemingly surrealness of Jesus, and the prophets who came before him, and experience that peace that “passeth understanding”, when we are silent and listening.

And as I went to write this article, and saw that the “screen saver”on my computer by Microsoft, was a series of brick walls, or possibly a doorway, I realized that technology, computers, phones or chatgpt cannot forever turn themselves on…People do that, or they do not.

I am neither hitting a brick wall, nor am I searching for a wormhole or a door . Mankind is not technology, and technology is not mankind.

In spite of what is projected by my screen, I realize technology is also not a battle or a brick wall or even a doorway. Technology has no power at all, that we do not give it.

We can recognize that truth, when we have our eyes open, and our minds receptive, like the rest of the story in chapter six of 2kings. We are in fact, when realizing that Life is eternal, surrounded by those who are with us, much more than those who are against us. For this, and for the realization of this, I am so grateful.

We are indeed listening, Father Steve, of St. Thomas More in Chapel Hill, NC…thank you.

Ps. My mom told me that the painting I was looking at was of Mount Etna, and the view was from Sicily.

--

--

Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.