Last night, my small group was talking about the disciplines of solitude and silence. For many Christ-followers, these can be really challenging – perhaps more so today than in any other era. Why? Because we have so much more to stimulate – and over-stimulate – us all the time. What might seem the easiest of spiritual disciplines can be the most difficult.
The thought of even a half-day silent retreat scares many of us half to death, because, if we’re honest, we have a certain addiction to our external stimuli. And, as with most addictions, we don’t really know it’s there until we are deprived.
As Ruth Haley Barton has written, “Silence deepens our experience of solitude, because in silence we choose to unplug not only from the constant stimulation of life in the company of others but also from our own addiction to noise, words, and activity. It creates a space for listening to the knowings that go beyond words…. The most essential question in solitude is: How have I been wanting to be with God, and how has God been wanting to be with me?” (Sacred Rhythms)
Today, instead of giving you more to read, I want to encourage you to take the next few minutes in silence, by yourself – just you and God. Sit comfortably, with your feet on the floor, palms up to indicate your openness to receive from the Lord. Pay attention to your breathing; slow it down. Close your eyes. Express your deepest longing to God. Take as long as you can, free from external visual or aural stimuli, in the presence of your Creator who loves you.
“Let go of your concerns!
Then you will know that I am God.
I rule the nations.
I rule the earth.” (Psalm 46.10, God’s Word Translation)