Silence is one of those things that one either loves or hates. Rarely is there a middle ground, though on occasions, there may well be.
Often in times of stress, acute illness, need or want, silence finds its place and may or may not become spiritual for us.
It plays a part in specific acts of remembrance – of celebratory success – in the darkest hours or in the morning light. A part it plays very well, is that of ‘calming presence’, when abuse and vitriol prevail or enter into our worlds.
Many people living with HIV are subject to abuse – be it in person, online or in written form. Often such abuse stems from a lack of understanding, perhaps fear, often, simply hatred. Sadly, I saw much of this when managing in HIV services in my nursing career.
Recently, I was abused on Twitter with pure vitriol for my support of the LGBTQI community, for my embracing and unconditional welcoming of all.
This is where I wanted to share my experience of silence as being ‘eloquent’ as a reply. My situation is clearly different from yours at the kind of abuse encountered, yet the power of remaining silent when being abused is the same.
Watching the Twitter troll who rampaged through my timeline, my friends and followers, not to mention key organisations I work with, was painful and damaging. Yet, my decision to remain silent – not to rise to the bait – and to watch his own demise unfold before the Twitter family, was an exceptional, indeed, humbling experience.
I reflected upon it (see my article here) and realised how eloquent silence really is. It empowers and shows real strength of character. It can disarm a perpetrator within a short period of time.
For me, it was a spiritual sanctuary too. An opportunity to let myself delve deeper into my faith, to feel the presence I so needed to sustain me at such a difficult time. To retreat effectively.
That’s where I hope spending some ‘silent time’ can help you too. To just fall into yourself, let go of worries, cares, fears, and to open up to the power of it. If you have a faith, use it to let yourself be wrapped in the love of it. To sense and feel the depth if it, open up to prayer etc.
If you don’t have a faith, use it to re-energise, to explore your inner self, and to gain emotional strength. It’s YOU time, something that is quite often much needed.
Faith & HIV, in fact, faith and sexuality more so, can often be difficult to align, personally, professionally, practically. Many of us are working hard to address the balance of acceptance, of love, care and support of all. Be open minded, help us to meet needs well.
Many of you, in your journey of living with HIV, will encounter abuse. Take a minute to reflect on which response will serve you best, to use your voice, or to remain silent and let the abuse simply fade away.
Revd Dr Stephen Sorby is Railway & British Transport Police Chaplain. He is a LGBTI Ambassador, Interfaith Adviser & Director of the Agape Faith Community. You can follow him on twitter at @RevStephenSorby.