As we creep further into October, and as I admit my love for all things fall including scary movies, today I want to share something with you that scares me on a regular basis- silence. Silence is both a spiritual discipline I struggle with as well as state that try to avoid on a regular basis. To clarify, I do not struggle with sitting in a quiet place, that kind of silence I welcome. What I struggle with is quieting my mind, stilling my thoughts and resting in a peace that seems elusive.
Here’s a short list of the reasons this sort of silence scares me: I worry that I won’t be able to solve my problems, I’m afraid that my anxiety will only rise more by my inability to keep my thoughts from running the show, I fear that I won’t find it helpful, I’m scared that will fail. What I recognize in these fears is that I feel a need to prove something rather than allowing silence to prove something to me.
Richard Rohr says
“It is always an act of faith to trust silence, because it is the strangest combination of you and not-you of all. It is deep, quiet conviction, which you are not able to prove to anyone else—and you have no need to prove it, because the knowing is so simple and clear. Silence is both humble in itself and humbling to the recipient.”
The Psalmist in chapter 46 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” How often do I read this and miss that the Scripture is about knowing that God is God and I am not? Is it possible that this kind of knowing only comes in the stillness, in just being?
We are so tied to our phones, our schedules, our TV’s, our social media- the list is endless. Some of these things we use to just relax, other times we tell ourselves we are staying informed. Yet, I wonder if we are really staying informed or if we are staying entertained.
What I am learning in this current season is that there is a lot of noise. My thoughts are crowded and even chaotic at times. It’s one thing for this to simply be uncomfortable but the truth is that it leaves me less compassionate as well. I cannot love or serve that which I have not given time or space to.
Rohr goes on to say it like this:
Without silence, we do not really experience our experiences. We may serve others and have many experiences, but without silence, nothing has the power to change us, to awaken us, to give us that joy that the world cannot give, as Jesus says.
I have not yet ‘succeeded’ at silence. But I have found a starting point: for 5 minutes a day I have committed just to breathing. What I mean by this is not sitting still, but actually only focusing on my breathing. When my mind wanders, I try to give myself some grace and go back to the breathing. It’s not rocket science, but I’m becoming less and less scared of silence and finding something way more sacred along the way. I’m finding a way to integration- that God lives within me as much as God lives outside me.
This week, find some time just to breathe and see what waits for you there in the silence. We continue our series “Jenga” on Sunday and this discipline of silence is a tangible and practical way that we can put our words into actions.
My prayer for you and for me in the silence is summed up in these words by Jan Richardson:
May you abide
the places in between:
the thresholds, the passages, the spaces of waiting
and patience and preparing.
May you give yourself
to the mysteries
that move us from what was toward what is yet to be.
May you know
the company of the angels who come only
to those betwixt
and who love
the liminal places
and the treasures
that they hold.
See you Sunday!