In a few short days I’ll be heading off for just over 3 days of silent retreat. My life these days is filled with so many words, books, meetings, conversations…most of it really good, important and meaningful. But for me, silence speaks much louder than any words especially when it comes to connecting with God. I’ve stopped seeing these times as a luxury and more of a necessity.
I need time to process things, people, situations. I need to silence the world for a bit so that I can focus that bit more on hearing from Him.
Our words always have limits. Our language, even if we have more than one, is never enough to plumb the depths of the love of Christ, the Father-hearted God and the tender stirrings of the Spirit.
It is likely that I’ll take a day or so just to allow the brain-chatter to settle down to a low din. I’ll write it all down in a journal just so that it’s said, written, expressed. Then I’ll wait and watch. I’ll be content for there to be nothing said between us, me and God, beyond the sense of knowing I’m held and known. My experience tells me that he will draw near and that there won’t be a moment for loneliness in being alone. But my experience also tells me he will speak in every way. And, as soon as the volume is turned down sufficiently, so the spirit is more attuned to the Spirit.
My favourite pieces of scripture from the gospels are when Jesus just slips away during the early hours, in the dead of night, in the liminality of travelling time. How wonderful it is to slip into his presence, into the quiet place.
What I also love about the silence is that I get to be attentive to the bits of me, the good, the bad and the ugly, bits of me that float to the surface. These can be held before God and allowed to pass. But time to stop, to notice, to listen, to learn and to know how things are. Silence terrifies people. It used to terrify me because for many years there was so much lurking, unacknowledged, unbidden. Silence is the gate through which you can enter and Christ can meet you at the point of your deepest and most honest self if you’ll allow it.
And then, I’ll return ready to speak from the heart. Careful not to throw away too quickly all the treasure of the stillness. Willing to share the gold wisely.
I can hear the silence calling already!