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Author Kathleen Norris used to play a game with elementary-school children in which she would make a deal with them. "First you get to make noise," she would bargain, "and then you’ll make silence."

The time of noise was always predictably chaotic -- shouting, pounding and stomping, like a football team exploding out of a locker room. But the period of silence that followed was unexpectedly passionate and creative. When the children were asked to write about it, reflects Norris, "their images often had a depth and maturity that was unlike anything else they wrote."

One boy discovered that "Silence is a tree spreading its branches to the sun."

One third-grader’s poem turned into a prayer: "Silence is spiders spinning their webs; it’s like a silkworm making its silk. Lord, help me to know when to be silent."

And a little girl offered a gem of spiritual wisdom that Norris finds herself returning to when her life becomes too noisy and distracting: "Silence reminds me to take my soul with me wherever I go"

(Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith [New York: Riverhead Books, 1998], 16-17).

When we follow the command of Jesus to be silent, we spread our branches to the sun and soak up the light of God’s love, forgiveness and peace. When we hear God’s still,...

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