I found this in my “drafts” folder today. To be honest, I have no idea how long it has been sitting there. Probably at least a year (the photos is from this morning though!) But I liked it. And it still rings true for me. Perhaps more than ever, and so I thought I’d hit “publish” today. May you find space for silence today, as you go about whatever your day brings!
For the last year, the Lord has been teaching me of the value and need for silence in my life. This is a concept I have struggled with over the years (despite being an introvert!) and I tend to lean towards filling my space with sounds, talking or music.
There are many reasons for avoiding silence. It seems that our contemporary society is uncomfortable with silence, and longs to avoid it. Silence makes us anxious. We fill it with music, incessant talking, the radio or even the social media just to avoid being alone with our thoughts. Perhaps we don’t know the value of silence, and haven’t had the opportunity to practice it in the context of our lives.
But, my friends, maybe silence is something that we need to lean into. No matter how awkward and uncomfortable it is, no matter how odd we feel practicing it. Because there is value in practicing silence, particularly in our noisy, busy, over stimulating world. Silence is where we are truly able to hear God’s voice, the gentle whispers that speak directly to our hearts in ways that no audible words ever can.
Dallas Willard writes (in the introduction to Ruth Hayley Barton’s “Invitation to Silence and Solitude”) “Solitude and silence are the most radical of the spiritual disciplines because they most directly attack the sources of human misery and wrongdoing. To be in solitude is to choose to do nothing for extensive periods of time. All accomplishment is given up. Silence is required to complete solitude, for until we enter quietness, the word still lays hold of us. When we go into solitude and silence we stop making demands on God. It is enough that God is God and we are his. We learn we have a soul, that God is here, that this world is “my Fathers world”.
I don’t know about you, but choosing to do nothing can be hard for me at times. I feel like a slacker. I feel like someone is going to judge me and call me lazy. And the biggest hurdle I face is the fact that I feel like I should be doing more. I often don’t even know what “more” would look like, but just more than sitting still and being in silence.
My spiritual director reminds me that often the spiritual disciplines we feel the least like doing are the ones our soul needs the most. So I have been pressing into silence. Sitting in the uncomfortable, awkward moments, setting aside my agenda and my lists, and waiting. Waiting to hear from the Lord. Some days this time feels rich and meaningful, and on others it feels awkward and contrived. But I keep trying. I remind myself that an important aspect of practicing silence, is simply showing up, and making space for God to speak and move.
“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
~ 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV ~
Below is an excerpt from the Book “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Hayley Barton (pages 106 & 107).
As you enter into silence today, take several deep breaths as a way of settling into these moments and becoming aware of God’s presence with you- closer to you than your breath.
When you feel ready, hear God ask you the question he asked Elijah, What are you doing here, ____________________? Sit quietly with the question, allowing it to penetrate all the way to the core of your being.
Allow your response to this question to emerge from your heart without trying to edit it. You may want to write your response in your journal, you may want to respond with spoken words or you may need to just experience the emotion that comes. The point is to communicate with God as honestly as you can about what is drawing you deeper and deeper into solitude right now. It may be serious and weighty, but it doesn’t have to be…
For right now, let it be enough to say what is true about you and then just wait in God’s presence.