There are few who could remain unmoved by the noble and solemn funeral services conducted in the nation’s capital and in Texas for the late President George H.W. Bush. The sentiments conveyed by countless people in the wake of his death were nearly unanimous in agreement of the depth of his character and the effectivity of his leadership.
But commentators on several media outlets were also struck by the funeral services themselves. On one program, a commentator observed that the most striking feature of one of the services was the silence. He wondered: “Are we ever really silent anymore?” That’s a very helpful question to guide us during this Advent season.
Amid the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, time set aside for silence and prayer is all the more urgently needed. Silence enables a kind of holy solitude that is necessary for the encounter with God. One spiritual writer observed recently that if one is not capable of solitude, one is not capable of having a relationship with the One who reveals himself in the silence. In a deafening world where the cultural and political noise is growing increasingly louder, it took the death of a president—a great man and statesman—to remind us that we need to slow down and enter into the silence in order to reflect on what we are becoming as individuals and as a nation.