Buechner: Gandhi: A Telling Silence

“I remember going to see the movie Gandhi when it first came out. ... We were the usual kind of noisy, restless Saturday night crowd. But by the time the movie came to a close with the flames of Gandhi’s funeral pyre filling the entire wide screen, there was not a sound or a movement in that whole theater, and we filed out of there—teenagers and senior citizens, blacks and whites,—in as deep and telling a silence as I have ever been part of.” —Frederick Buechner in The Clown in the Belfry (HarperCollins, 1992).


We long to silence the busyness in our heads. We try meditation, interacting with children, exercise, being outdoors, or just sitting. Sometimes art forms can move us from our head to our hearts—to the Christ within us—in record time, as in the old Superman slogans, “like a speeding bullet.” Movies can do this for me, especially stories of those who know what suffering is and have learned from it rather than choosing to avoid the reality of it. I had the same experience as Buechner and his fellow viewers when I first saw the movie, Gandhi. As we by chance might have glanced over at the strangers on either side of us in the packed theater, none of us needed to feel embarrassed by our tears.

We all walked out of the theater in silence. There were no words. The transformative power of this 1982 movie still speaks to us each time we see it, now more than thirty years later.

Since today we more often watch movies in our homes than in the theater, we are less likely to experience the powerful community reaction that Buechner and I had.

The movie Gandhi, about someone who brought about change by nonviolence, is the sort of story we need to remember every day.

Joanna joannaseibert.com

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Book Signing Wordsworth Books

Saturday, November 2, 2019 1 to 3 pm

Just in time for the holidays

A Spiritual Rx for Advent Christmas, and Epiphany

The Sequel to A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter

Both are $18. Money from sale of the books goes to Camp Mitchel Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas or Hurricane Relief in

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast