In my opinion, one of the most powerful and one of the most overlooked spiritual disciplines is that of silence. Remember, when I talk about spiritual disciplines I am talking about those practices that cultivate and enrich our relationship with Father – they are never a means to earn Gods love or favor.
Silence is such a foreign idea to many of us in the West because our culture is very noisy. We are constantly bombarded by noise whether it be traffic noise, the pings of our smart phones or the relentless clamor for attention by the marketers. Consider the many ways the advertisers get our attention – they need to find more extreme ways to grab our attention in an effort to cut through the drone of the constant sales pitch. I find that I am less and less tolerant of the constant noise of the pitch. In fact, I have become very suspicious of it, and I have come to refer to it as hype. The louder something has to shout to tell me how great it is or how true it is, the less inclined I am to believe it. If I need to be razamatazzed, manipulated, frightened, pressured or worked into a lather to get me to buy in – it is probably, in my opinion, a clue that what they are selling may not be all that. This goes for Church too.
“Many live an advertised life - a life lived on the surface. We are however invited, called and led, if we are willing, to live a discovered life - a life of moving from deep to deep.”
I am not against passionate worship, teaching or preaching as these can be very rich and life inspiring. I am concerned with what seems like immaturity that in spite of lights-camera-action many churches struggle to help us connect in a deeper way to God. Many wonder if we have confused a good show experience with a true experience with God. Now hear me, God can be in the big and flashy but I am also aware that even more profoundly, the Father seems to prefer the language of silence.
Silence is not necessarily the absence of noise. Life is full of ambient noise, and it can’t all be silenced - for example the sound of your heart or your breathing. However, silence helps us attune our soul to the movement of the Spririt of God within us. Taking time to turn off those aspects of noise we can control allows us to cultivate an inner silence-or if you like - peace. As we cultivate times of silence externally, this allows us to turn our attention to that which is within us. For many of us - that’s exactly why we keep so busy - the TV, the radio, Crack book going loud and long - so we don’t have to hear to what is really going on inside of us. It is in this place though that we can begin to address those things that are truly stealing life from us - shame, guilt, fear, loneliness, anger, bitterness are usually the biggies. In creating space in our lives for silence, we can then enter these inner heart ailments with God and in the safety of perfect love begin to hear words of love, truth and healing in a much deeper way. A whisper of God to a hurting place in our heart can bring more freedom than a weekend of charismatic teaching. A word of love laid at the root of rejection can bring true transformation. The still small voice touches us at the deepest levels of our being. It is not impeded by the hard-pan of our hurt and shame. Why? Because Christ within us is indeed the hope of glory as Christ speaks from our core being to the core of our being, as deep calls unto deep.
Many of us are familiar with the biblical exhortation “Be still and know that I am God” or as St. Jerome would translate it - be empty and see that I am God. Learning to cultivate inner silence (empty) can afford us the opportunities to experience a new kind of filling.
Let’s make opportunities for silence in our daily life, turn off the music, the phone and the email. Allow your hearing to be re-calibrated by the silence. You will be amazed as you begin to hear God in new and powerful ways.
Check Out this short video reflection