A while ago, I watched the movie “Take Me Home” starring husband/wife duo Amber and Sam Jaeger. It was a fun, quirky film and I enjoyed it.
But one scene in particular resonated with me and I wanted to bring it up here (no spoilers, don’t worry). In the scene, the two main characters find themselves in a little diner, looking across at an elderly couple who are eating in total silence. The woman (who is a bit jaded in her current relationship) remarks that she never wants to end up that way– so old and with nothing to say. She assumes that the couple has grown bored with each other and thinks that almost every relationship is doomed to such an ill fate. Thom, however, sees the couple in a different light. He instead suggests that perhaps the couple is just so comfortable with each other that they don’t even need words to communicate. He looks forward to a relationship like that.
I loved this scene because ever since having the kids, I’ve felt a little self-conscious about going out to dinner *alone!!* with my husband. There are always little things to catch up on, but for the most part, any evening out is bound to be punctuated by long periods of silence. This isn’t because we’ve run out of things to say, but rather because we are enjoying the silence. We are simply happy to be in each other’s presence without all the other background noise. We are happy to eat our dinner without having to jump up and get someone a glass of water, or cut up their food again or grab a napkin because someone spilled. It’s just…. quiet. Ahhhhh…..
I get self-conscious, though, because sometimes I think that we have a duty as married persons to show our unmarried counterparts (the majority of whom I imagine sympathize with the woman in the movie) that we, too, have fun! We enjoy lively conversation! We flirt and laugh and talk about serious world-changing ideas, too. We just don’t feel like we have to do that all the time. Some times, just being alone together is the biggest treat. I don’t want anyone looking at us being silent and thinking, “They must be bored with each other.” That would be so far from the truth.
With this scene still in the back of my mind, my husband and I came upon this passage during our Lenten reading:
“We know that only in and through love can we be silent…Our intellect is not fed by silence, but our heart is. When we love someone intensely, we keep silent and silence is comfortable. If, however, the person is but a casual acquintaince, silence becomes unbearable..we do everything possible to break the intolerable silence; it is like ice which everyone wants to break.” (Marie-Dominique Philippe, “Wherever He Goes: A Retreat on the Gospel of John,” p. 47)
Fr. Philippe places silence at the heart of love. It is only those whom we love deeply that we can be comfortable enough to be silent with. Of course, in the context of this book-retreat, the subject of this observation was ultimately God and the importance of silence in prayer. But doesn’t it ring true of our human relationships as well? I know who the people are in my life that I’m comfortable being silent with: my parents, my sisters, my husband and a handful of friends. And I love them even more for it.
What do you think?
Who are the people you can be silent with?
Are you ever self-conscious about being silent in public?