I have said before that God is in the silence. Our busy lives, with televisions and music and other electronics, often prevent us from being able to focus on Him. There's just not enough silence to hear God in our daily lives.
Never was that so apparent to me as last night during this film. "Into Great Silence" is a documentary "of sorts" about the Carthusian Order of monks, who live and serve in a secluded area of the French Alps.
I reserved this movie from our library, although I honestly cannot say where I read about it. Having a quiet evening ahead of me last night, I decided to sneak away to my bedroom and plug it into the portable DVD player.
When I began watching, I first noticed how slowly the picture changed. Was it a still picture, or was that person just not moving? And why was it so quiet? No one spoke; no one explained what was happening. I checked the DVD box where I read that there is no voiceover. How frustrating, I thought. I don't know what they're doing, why they're doing it. Will no one explain their life, their order's rule?
I watched for a while and after a period I realized that this movie does not need narration. Their lives are so simple that what they do does not need explanation. They live, they eat, they pray, they contemplate.
The only sounds in the film are their chant, a rare few moments of talk (en francais), the sounds of their footfall, the rustling of their habit, and the birds outside the doors of their monastery. It is so incredibly peaceful. I began to imagine what it would be like to have all of that silence, to be in constant communion with God, simply because you could be.
This film made me slightly sad to have passed up the opportunity to live the life of the monastic. When I was growing up, becoming part of a cloistered religious life was never even discussed. I don't think my parents even knew anything about it. The other religious in my life apparently didn't think it worthy of discussion, maybe because there are so few orders. Right now I can't imagine why more people wouldn't choose that life, though I did notice quite a few (the majority, in fact) young men in the film.
What this film did for me was show me how much noise we have in our lives. With all the sounds we hear, we interrupt the sound of God. How wonderful it was to sit (and I was knitting) to the sound of silence; to not have interruptions to the thoughts in my head. The simplicity of life that the Carthusians lead is definitely something to strive for; to lead such a simple life that God is always first.
Check out this trailor for a small taste, and see if your library has the film. It will be the most relaxing 162 minutes you've spent in a long time.