Rest: Helpful Hint #2
Today’s suggestion around the discipline of being still and rest focuses on the practice of silence.
The gurus warn against putting a methodology to silence.
“The person who views the disciplines as laws will always turn silence into and absurdity, ‘I’ll not speak for the next 40 days!’”Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
‘…silence will be richly rewarded if they do not set any conditions on how they expect this encounter to take place or what they hope to get form it, but simply accept it as it comes.’Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
So for fear of trying to advise you in something we are warned against systemetising. Let me at least point you in some starting direction.
First suggestion Silence amidst solitude. Take the time to seek for a solitary, quiet place to practice silence. Even Jesus, in Matthew 6:6 talks of escaping into a quiet, remote room [or closet] to pray; and Jesus, judging by the numerous accounts of Him escaping the business of life to spend time with God, was a master of silence and stillness. Try to set a specific time for such solitude. Put away the gadgets; go off the grid; find a quiet, solitary place, minus all possible distractions, and practice listening to God.
Second suggestion Silence amidst noise. Solitude is not something we can practice often – a mother at home with a room full of kids can’t just drive down to the river and hope that no one burns down the house. But that doesn’t mean we give up on silence – or maybe more specifically, listening. Even amidst the audible noise that continues around about it is not impossible to mentally switch off all that is unnecessary and seek to listen. I’m told it was Susanna Wesley – the mother of John and Charles – who taught her children to give her space whenever she covered her head with her apron. Even amidst the noise it is wise to practice silence by intentionally listening to God.
Third suggestion Silence amidst other disciplines. Of course, there is the opportunity to tie the practice of silence with other disciplines. The discipline of prayer, for instance; even the discipline of meditation. If silence is about listening, then reading and consciously seeking to listen to the Word of God would be a wise practice. And just so in our prayers. Rather than filling prayer with our own words and thoughts – silence causes us to take a breath, to pause, to stop and to listen – even to listen for what we should talk with God about. So silence is something easily/wisely intertwined with the other disciplines.
My final suggestion would be to start small. Don’t think that you can just set aside a whole 8 hours tomorrow to be silent. You might be able to succeed at being verbally silent – but our minds have a way of wandering and being easily distracted rather than focusing on God and listening to Him. So, I would suggest starting small. Start with a few minutes, master that and then add on a few more minutes. Don’t think that you can lift the biggest dumbbell straight-out – there is a sense in which we have to practice this discipline of silence and learn this art of listening.