Auld Lang Silence (Episode 45)
December 31, 2018
Our final episode of 2018, a time to reflect on our conversation about silence thus far.
For our final episode of 2018 — the first full year of our podcast, which debuted on December 6, 2017 — the three co-hosts of Encountering Silence sat down for a brief chat in which we reflected on the year just past, and shared some hopes for the podcast in the year to come.
This time a year ago, we had only released four episodes and had yet to interview our first guest (who would be Patrick Shen, in episode 7). We were still trying to figure this whole podcasting thing out. Kevin had managed to get some grant money for the recording and mixing equipment, and we all split the costs of the website, the URL and the podcasting hosting fees. We were operating on a shoestring, driven by faith and our shared love for silence (and, as we were soon to discover, poetry).
This time a year ago we had no idea that we would soon be interviewing a wide array of truly interesting and insightful guests who spoke about silence from a variety of perspectives. (If you're new to the podcast, here's a partial list of the folks we've spoken to over the past year):
James Martin, SJ
Barbara A. Holmes
Richard Rohr, OFM
Parker J. Palmer
Over the course of the year, several themes emerged, some of which we were mindful of when we began the podcast, but others which arose out of the various conversations over the year. Some of those themes included these thoughts: Silence matters; silence is an "endangered species" in our hyper-connected, entertainment-drenched world; silence is essential not only for spiritual well-being but for mental and physical wellness also; silence is essential for creativity; different kinds of people embrace and encounter silence in different ways; not all "silences" are created equal, and not all expressions of silence are good — there is such a thing as "toxic" silence; and the list could go on.
After thirteen months, all three of the co-hosts are awed and humbled and amazed at the richness of the conversation, as well as the emerging web of new friendships and connections that we see on social media, as well as in "real life," of people who are drawn to this podcast — and each other — by a shared recognition that silence matters.
So — now, where do we go from here?
Looking ahead, naturally we are eager to expand the conversation as we invite some new dialogue partners onto the podcast (and perhaps welcome a few of our previous guests back for new episodes). We are eager to explore more deeply both the social dimension of silence (how silence relates to religion, to art, to social justice, and to the problem of social and economic privilege) as well as the personal dimension of silence (how to be more silent in the middle of stress, during times of vulnerability or suffering, and in the midst of life's ordinary chaos). We believe silence makes a difference, and — except for its toxic form, which we would argue is actually a betrayal of true silence) — that difference is universally positive, yielding physical, mental and spiritual benefits. So we also want to talk more about how to spread the "good news" of silence and help others to access silence in both personal and communal ways.
It's amazing how such a quiet topic (pardon the pun) can yield such a rich and nuanced conversation. We feel like the conversation is just getting started. Please stay tuned — we value your companionship as we make this journey, deeper and deeper into the mystery of silence!
Finally, one last point to observe about both the year just ended and the year to come. As of this writing, 42 people have committed to support the podcast financially through a monthly pledge on Patreon (we've had several other donors make one-time contributions as well). All three of us find it's awkward to ask for money, but podcasting is both a time-intensive task and a form of media based on free access — anyone can listen for free (and we like it that way),