Silence and Solitude
“It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts.”
― Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude
In her wonderful book The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun lists both the practices of silence and solitude in the section entitled “Relinquish the False Self.” She suggests that silence and solitude can help us to to detach ourselves from “striving and masking” who we are in “reputation, success, status, family, jobs, health.” She writes that in quiet and when alone we have the opportunity to receive our true identity “in Christ,” one that we don’t earn or accomplish or prove.
Isaiah 30:15 famously describes the Lord as saying “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Immediately following these inviting words, however, God declares “But you were unwilling.” Both of these statements are true of my experience. Silence and solitude have been great gifts to me, transformative even, as they have helped me to enter into Christ’s life-giving presence. At the same time, I am often unwilling to enter into these practices. I am drawn to noise and distraction, and the masking of my true self. I need help, wisdom, and encouragement in this alternative and life-giving way.
If the statements of Isaiah 30:15 are similarly true of you, if you long to enter more fully into silence and solitude, to meet God in quiet and solitary places, even if you have perhaps had no sense of the goodness of silence and solitude, I want to encourage you to sign up for our Lunch and Learn this Sunday. Our time will be led by Jon Ingle, a member of our community who is a trained spiritual director and wise and contemplative follower of Jesus. Jon will talk some about these practices and how they can help us in our following of Jesus, and we’ll also have some time to engage with them as well.
Related to the idea of entering into Christ’s presence, this Sunday is a 5th Sunday of the month. As is our custom, this Sunday we will respond to the sermon differently than normal. In place of the creed and prayers of the people we will have an extended time to worship and receive prayer, or to be still and silent in God’s presence. Members of the prayer team will be available to pray for anyone with any need. You might prepare for this time by simply considering the areas of your life where God’s abundant life and generosity are in need. I’m looking forward to this time together.
Grace and peace,