It has become an annual habit of mine to get away in silence and solitude for a few days. It takes days because the first half of the silence is about getting the mind geared down.
Last weekend I was able to get away for a silent retreat. My soul had been agitated and I knew it was time to move into silence. It is a normal practice I work to keep in the spring of the year, but my soul was so agitated I moved some things around to make sure I could get away sooner rather than later.
I also knew the place I had to go. There are a few places I’ve gone to for solitude over the years, but Pacem in Terris is designed specifically for “hermits” who seek the silence. The hermitages are for individuals. When you enter the area where hermitages are placed, there is the admonition to stay silent.
There is a main lodge area at the entrance and evening meals can be enjoyed in community. That is the only time and space for talking. While on the grounds, silence is to be kept.
The quiet is an opportunity for the Spirit of God to wash over a soul. It is the time I have found in my life where I have experienced the presence of God in the most intense way. Every time I have gone into solitude, I experience his presence more powerfully than at any other time. And I’m a Pentecostal who has known some intense moments of worship and power in the past.
When we will shut up, God will show up. His presence is beautiful. I am thankful for the opportunity to rest my soul.
Dallas Willard says that practicing solitude with silence are the most important spiritual disciplines for people today, especially pastors. In our busy, noisy world we need to “unhook” and get away in order to be alone and be ourselves with our Lord. Continue reading “The silence and the solitude”
God will show up if I just shut up.
There are times God seems silent. We don’t hear him. We trust he is there. Sometimes all we can do is hope we can trust.
Several years ago at a day of prayer and fasting Pastor Mark Denyes shared these verses from Job about the silence of God:
8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:8-10)
We search and don’t seem to find him. But we keep trusting. We keep waiting.
Testing is never easy. The results will almost always be worth it.
“The only thing to seek in contemplative prayer is God; and we seek Him successfully when we realize that we cannot find Him unless He shows Himself to us, and yet at the same time that He would not have inspired us to seek Him unless we had already found Him.”
― Thomas Merton,
Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. — Henri Nouwen
“When society is made up of men who know no interior solitude it can no longer be held together by love: and consequently it is held together by a violent and abusive authority. But when men are violently deprived of the solitude and freedom which are their due, then society in which they live becomes putrid, it festers with servility, resentment and hate.”
― Thomas Merton,
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.
— Mother Teresa