September 26, 2023 | Russ Moe

“What is it that’s essential about you?” asked the late-night talk show host. “It seems to me the things that are center stage are rarely the things that are the most important. I get up every morning at least by five, have a couple hours of quiet time, and reflect on what it is, that is important.”

The gem of the interview came next. 

“Real revelation comes through silence.”

The soft-spoken ordained minister who impacted the world with his phenomenal “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” TV program, not only revealed the essential center of his life, but the secret to hearing God. Not surprisingly, both were the same.

“I’m very concerned that our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence,” he said. “My, this is a noisy world! What can we do to encourage people to have more quiet in their lives, to have more silence?”

Here’s what Fred Rogers did.

During his many commencement addresses, he invited everyone to pause and contemplate who had helped them in life. “I’d like to give you an invisible gift,” he would say, “One minute of silence.” He then kept the time on his watch as he broke the cardinal rule of public speaking. Many say it was unforgettable. “Thankfulness always involves a divine exchange,” notes Rogers.

Just silence. No professor or curriculum had ever emphasized it. The remarkably accomplished man told countless college graduates on the threshold of their journey, “The people most influential in my success are the ones who encouraged me to have some silence.”

Our world is alien to it. You must retreat to find some. Elevators, lobbies, waiting rooms, restrooms, gas pumps, phone call holds, supermarkets, airports, restaurants, hallways, even bookstores carry constant audio filler. In marketing, “dead air” is a wasted opportunity. Standing at a restroom urinal was once a quiet break. Now it’s an advertising blitz on the wall I have to stare at, and audio I can’t escape. Silence is exploited.

When told, “God is always speaking,” most respond, “I don’t hear anything.” No wonder. 

It’s a “still small voice:” dove-like, unlike strong wind, earthquakes, breaking mountains, and raging fire. Like us, Elijah confused the sensational for the spiritual (1 Kings 9:11-13, KJV). 

Rarely audible, it’s a voice without sound, like the voice of our conscience. It’s intuitive,heard in spiritual senses, not our natural ears. Jesus said, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” Willing ears hear a living God willing to speak. “Knock,” “ask,” “seek,” He said, and guaranteed a response.

 In our fast-paced competitive world demanding productivity and instant answers, waiting and listening are as foreign as Mister Rogers’ speeches. Do something, even if it’s wrong, becomes the operating principle.

Christ quietly doodled in the sand before the vulturous accusers of the adulterous woman. He rose with the answer to an impossible life and death question. “Let he that is without sin, first cast a stone.” Today such doodling is terminable. 

We learn that listening precedes speaking. It also precedes doing. God has the answer. Courage ignores the intimidating voices of the world around us. One word from God’s voice silences the giants.

The Bible offers many such breaks throughout the Psalms called Selahs; stop and consider these words. Such pauses are the key to understanding. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.” It’s our lifestyle. 

Exercise sharpens spiritual senses. Start with one minute?