Much of the world rang in the new year months ago, but tomorrow, March 5, the people of the island nation Bali will celebrate their new year, Nyepi. This Hindu religious celebration is unlike the boisterous festivities found in Time’s Square. There’s no “Auld Lang Syne” blaring from speakers, noise makers honking or excited hoots and hollers for this New Year’s celebration.
There’s only silence.
24 hours of silence to be exact.
Beginning at 6 a.m., the people of Bali are to focus on the values of love, patience, kindness and the importance of self-introspection as they enter into a new year. Nyepi is Bali’s most important religious day, and there are strict rules to enforce the sanctity of this day.
Minimal light. The airport and all businesses are closed. Without the excess clutter and distractions, the Balinese are able to begin a new year with a clean slate, completely renewed.
In our Catholic faith, we know of many orders of nuns and monks who continue to honor the sanctity of silence in their lives in order to grow closer to God. Through vows of silence or cloistered life, they too remove the unnecessary distractions of our world to be one with Christ. Mother Teresa perhaps said it best:
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
You don’t have to be vacationing on the island of Bali or entering into a religious order to appreciate the healing power of silence in your life. As a single Catholic, take time to quiet your thoughts, focus your mind and dwell in God-given silence. God’s peace is waiting for you in this silence, and it is up to each of us to find it.