Faith and Sports by Eric Jensen

Moments of Silence"

Moments of silence.  We find them in prayer, in communion, and at the beginning of major sporting events after tragedies.  Why only in these places?  No one ever walks into their office after a massive tragedy like the Parkland shooting and has a moment of silence. A restaurant never falls silent after the death of a prominent member of the community.  The only times in life we truly have a mass moment of silence are at sporting events and in our houses of worship.

Why? What is it that makes us strike the air out of a coliseum as we do in a church when the time for silent reflection comes? I suggest that it is because they are the places we feel most comfortable. The reasons for feeling at ease amongst a congregation are obvious. We are a community intertwined together by the common thread of praising the Lord.  At a sporting event though, where is the community? Where are the lifelong relationships that we are able to form in a circle of church-goers?  Those comfy confines of familiarity disappear, and we are intermingled with strangers in a mess of humanity in the stadium. We suddenly know no one but ourselves. Yet when the PA announcer booms over the loud speakers "please rise for a moment of silence to remember those fallen" we fall in line to become and experience something stunning.

Have you ever listened to silence? I mean really listened to silence? It comes so scarcely in our daily lives that we as a society have forgotten what silence sounds like. Even as you are falling to sleep every night, you can hear the roaring of your home's heating or cooling system, and the cars on the main streets of Salt Lake City.  On the quietest nights you can even hear distant train horns traveling through Murray or Rio Grande to Ogden. We rarely hear silence but when we do it is spine chilling. Next time we go into silent meditation at church during prayer I would beg of you to listen. Listen and find what silence means. In the Stadium, silence is at first, sudden. Like breaking right before the stop light, you can feel it. Then it is somber, then empty. One of the most haunting feelings in the world is being in the middle of a silent stadium for even just a split second.  It sends chills down my back, for sure. Then there is the silent shuffling of silence. The moment where you can hear a pin drop, or a foot shuffle.  And then the announcer booms back over the PA, and life resumes.

Why do we have moments of silence? To honor the victims? Yes, but in the end we will never know the victims pains and we will never be able to comprehend how exactly to honor them. I would argue this:  we have moments of silence to remind us we are community.  At sporting events we are not community.  We know no one.   We are just there to enjoy the game and escape from our daily lives. The moment of silence creates community.  Even if just for a moment, we all become a part of a larger family.  We all have a common purpose.  We all have the weight of silence on us, we all realize suddenly how together we are.  We often think of silence as something that divides;  a sign of loneliness. In reality, moments of silence are often the only times in our lives, in church or in the stadium, that show us we are all in this mess together.