I realise that silence and solitude are not topics which the majority of the population are familiar with, or even comfortable with, apart from times when they are asleep! For in sleep most people are silent (aside from sleep talking and snoring!) and they are in their own world during it, even if they are physically with someone else!
I do not know whether you have come across the Apprentice Series by James Bryan Smith? The first book, ‘The Good and Beautiful God’, highlights the importance of sleep in the first chapter. As humans we are designed to spend nearly one third of our lives asleep! Yet research shows that, we are sleeping for less hours now than was typical of previous generations and the percentage of people with sleep related problems has risen.
Failure to have adequate sleep and rest impacts other areas of our lives. For example, our ability to read the Bible, pray and enter silence and solitude is minimised when we have not had enough sleep and rest.
“What about silence and solitude?” I hear you say! Yes, I am coming to them now, but without the recognition of the importance of sleep and rest and taking steps to ensure you have an adequate amount of them, you will experience exhaustion and fatigue and will not be able to make the most of silence and solitude. In fact when you stop and try and enter into silence you may find yourself falling asleep!
Many people find that the current speed and pace of life, leaves them little or no time for quiet thought or silent reflection. Juggling roles and responsibilities, engaging with the demands of social media, life can be akin to that of a hamster on a wheel and just keeps going on and on!
Taking time out to stop and be still can seem like a luxury, with the added pressure that time spent away from the daily demands, means that there will be more to do when we return!
Centuries ago the writer of Lamentations advised:
“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.” Lamentations 3: The Message.
There are many ways and methods that have been developed over the centuries of how to enter into solitude, silence and stillness and many books have been devoted to this area of spirituality. For example:
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster,
- Listening to God by Joyce Huggett,
- Rhythms of Grace by Tony Horsfall
Becoming familiar with how to enter into silence takes time, patience and perseverance… the rewards can be deep and lasting. The key is to start the journey with small steps! I invite you to take the challenge and try… beginning with five minutes a day. These short meditations will help you. Let me know how you get on!
I was brought up in an era, where some adults still held the view that “Children should be seen and not heard”! Knowing that childhood experiences can have a lasting impact, I have often wondered if that view, together with the fact that my siblings were significantly older than I, and away at boarding school,(which meant I spent much of my time on my own) paved the way for my enjoyment of silence and solitude in later life.
I hope the weather is good for your week-end away!