Over the last few weeks, I have been a little sick. For me, that means that I will lose my voice. The smokey tones of Marge Simpson will emerge for a while, giving way to the honk of an imprisoned swan, leaving me finally with utter silence.
I pause now for my wife to rejoice. It is a bit rough in my line of
work – It is hard to preach, lead the prayers or to talk with someone
who is having a rough day. So this was an eye-opening experience as I
moved through the community observing how other people communicated.
For all of the long game that the Sith perpetrated for 1000 years,
their frenetic activity and vapid words are a sign of the sort of noise
about which I am speaking. They manipulate through their words. They
spend their time gaining power to satisfy the base lust of power. Their
lives and teaching are full of action without value. The power they seek
is ultimately elusive, for they spend no time communing with the Force,
but working to bend it to their individual wills. This is destructive.
The proper teaching of the Jedi way is quite the opposite.
Contemplation and care for the other are the foundation of the authority
with which they have been entrusted. Indeed, they know that their
sensitivity to the Force is a gift that must be matured and cultivated
if it is to achieve the potential that lies within. They do this through
meditation and listening more than speaking. Their cognates in the real
world are the monastics of the various religious traditions: they
meditate and pray, they work for the communal good and are obedient to
the superior of a community. Simply look to Qui-Gon’s meditative poses
in his fateful duel with Darth Maul to see the value of meditation in
even the most horrendous situations.
In the very moment when he could have saved his own life, he remained
silent. Had he said he was from Galilee, he would have been sent to
Herod again. Had he said the other side of the Jordan, he would have
been deported. But in the moment when he could have filled the air with a
defense, Christ remained silent. The true God, who through his own will
spoke creation to come into being, knew that his power would be
completely made known in his silence and weakness. Pilate did not
comprehend the profound statement made in the silence from Jesus.
Instead, he leveled a threat, hoping to scare out a confession.
Thereafter, “Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me
unless it had been given you from above.’” Christ is perfect in his
weakness and silence, because even he knows that all power and authority
is not from within the weak vessels of the humans, but coming down from
Where Anakin ran into aggressive negotiations with his lightsaber
drawn, and the Jedi Council sought to subdue the demonic Palpatine
through demonic actions, Luke stands in divine contemplation on Death
Star II, choosing to cast away the weapon of violence for silent love.
His victory that saved the galaxy from Sith domination was done in
silence, through a compassionate look to his father, and the enduring of
Sith lightning. Instead of justifying himself and displaying his
immense power through the blade, Luke rebuffs the emperor through small
words and large actions. He says “I’ll never turn to the Dark Side.
You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
With that, he returns to the silence, waiting for the evil one to throw
all of his efforts against an immovable wall. In his silence and
suffering, Luke wins. Goodness wins when the battling is no longer done
merely to scar the opponent, but to aid the brother or sister (or
father) in their journey toward everlasting light. In one of the latest songs from
Pink Floyd, the profound statement is made: “The beat of our hearts is
louder than words…this thing they call soul/Is there with a pulse louder
the lesson before us is one of profound silence. Silently listening for
the still small voice of the Creator to call us ever closer to himself.
When we drown out that voice, when we turn away from the ultimate good,
we set ourselves up as the empty idol to which we pay homage. But,
should we recognize our frailty and deep existential needfulness, we
just might become a lump of clay that can be transfigured into something
when life returns to the normal and mundane, I hope to carry within
myself the same lessons. At all times, it is no longer I who has to be
the master of all things, but humble in knowing that my help comes from
above, and I am only built to listen and respond with all of my life to
the call to silence and compassion. It is my hope and prayer that these
lessons might remain with you as well.