On silence and brain chatter


Photo Credit: John Mcsporran, Buttermere

This morning I heard the unmistakable high-pitch squeal of a mosquito. But it’s November, and I’m in England.

It turned out to be that my phone had been charging for too long; I unplugged it and the electronic scream dwindled. Silence, as still as a lake. I breathed more deeply.

This is how you treat external noise – you just unplug and smile: smug.


Every day, I look up at the sky for fifteen minutes and try and connect with God. It is my way of practising the discipline of silence.

But even when the world is quiet, I am the noisiest person in the universe. My internal noise drowns all quiet. My brain just doesn’t stop.


I look at clouds drifting.

I wonder if I can meet my deadlines. With a jolt, I catalogue the emails and comments I need to respond to. Then I think about stars and night-driving.

I wonder about ordination and dream about being healthy. What would chaplaincy look like? Is the Church of England a crumbling institution? How long would it take to qualify as a spiritual director? I wonder if women tend to be more attracted to chaplaincy than men, and why women take so long to get ordained. Is it a feminist issue?

My book is out and I’m happy, and at the same time, I don’t know how many sales it will take to truly feel like a success. Perhaps it never does.

Can we talk about Mary and Joseph as refugees? Syria and refugees don’t seem to be in the news anymore. The news cycle is so cruel: we are bored so quickly of tragedy, and God must weep. Maybe God weeps over everything.

I look at my watch: two minutes. With two minutes of supposed silence, I’ve just travelled from my desk to Syria and back. Welcome to the inside of my brain, people.

Thirteen minutes to go.


I look back at the sky: grey passing over blue, passing over white.

God makes the clouds, and they’re so beautiful.

I suddenly realise I’m talking about God, not to God.

God, you made the clouds, and they’re so beautiful.

There’s a curious thing that happens in my soul at that point. It’s like entering a temple. I feel my spirit connect with the Holy Spirit. I am as still as a pillar, silent as a lake.

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    let all the earth be silent before him.” – Habakkuk 2:20 

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'I suddenly realise I’m talking about God, not to God.' On silence and brain chatter: Click To Tweet 'Welcome to the inside of my brain, people.' On silence and brain chatter: Click To Tweet 'Even when the world is quiet, I am the noisiest person in the universe. My brain doesn’t stop.'… Click To Tweet

Over to you: 

  • How do you silence your own brain chatter?
  • When do you feel like your spirit connects with the Holy Spirit?
  • When do you find yourself talking to God, instead of about God?

Joining with #fiveminutefriday, 


Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay by Tanya Marlow (Malcolm Down) is now OUT – paperback still £6.99 on Amazon.co.uk or $9.24 on Amazon.com.*

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3 Responses to On silence and brain chatter

  1. Rebecka 15th November, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

    I wish I knew how to silence my brain chatter! I have yet to find a way which is why, when I do talk to God, my prayers are often short and scattered and I forget to listen for a reply. Occasionally I feel my spirit connecting with the Holy Spirit, but those times feel few and far between. I experienced it a lot when I was away this summer. I was able to go to church and make new friends and pray with them, but then I came home, and my health isolated me again and I felt like I lost the connection… I think I’m going to try your fifteen minutes.

  2. Guy Austin 10th November, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

    Wow, this is fantastic. What a journey in such a short time. It amazes me when I think about what other write. The process that goes through ones own mind and transfers those thoughts into another.

    I find that reading or hearing another’s thought triggers mine. I can never even think of something, anything without some external nuance to spark my mind.

    Yet the spark often triggers something complete different. And God. Speaking about him as you showed is mostly what I find my self doing: I am in awe of what God has created; rather than – God, I am in awe of your creation.

  3. Amy Boucher Pye 10th November, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    I loved your post. I have so much of that internal wrangling too. When do I feel my spirit connecting with the Holy Spirit? Lots of times on my own, but also very strongly when praying with and for other people, in their presence. That can be amazing.

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