Spiritual Disciplines // SILENCE & SOLITUDE
By Andrea Larson
During this past year of COVID restrictions and “distancing”, many of us have chafed at the resulting solitude that has been thrust upon us. It feels very foreign to us not to be eating, laughing or, in many cases, even working with other people. And did I mention hugging? We huggers in the group miss that perhaps most of all!
On Sunday and yesterday, Pastor Chris reminded us of an important scripture that Paul penned while he was believed to have been in prison:
“ Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”– Philippians 4: 11-12
Perhaps we can make some addenda to his statements that are appropriate for the cultural moment in which we find ourselves living:
– I have learned how to live with lots of people around or by myself.
– I have learned to be content when I can only visit with people outside of my home
who are 6 feet away from me with a mask on.
– I have learned to love people without hugging them.
But in all honesty, the relative isolation that has been required of us has NOT necessarily been equated with silence. Parents who are juggling multiple children doing online school at home have more noise than ever. Zoom meetings invade the previous privacy of our homes with regular frequency. Even when given the opportunity to be alone, so many of us fill our homes and our hearts with NOISE from news, or YouTube or Spotify that drowns out the pain of sitting in silence with our own thoughts.
True solitude, the state in which we are not merely alone, but in which we strip away the clutter of news and advertising and mind-numbing entertainment is the place where God can meet us – the REAL us. It is the place where we can hear Him whispering to us in a still small voice, “I love you.”
1. Read the following scripture:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8: 38-39
2. Find the quietest spot in your house. Sit in silence for 5 minutes before the Lord and reflect on this scripture and what it means to you.
3. If you did step #2, I commend you for your desire to practice an important spiritual discipline. If you did not, I encourage you again to actually DO IT. 5 minutes! Don’t just read about it and say to yourself that you don’t want to or don’t have time or even more unbelievably, that you can’t. Seriously, we both know that you can if you want to. Give up 5 minutes of Netflix. Give up 5 minutes of news. Set a timer. It will be hard at first, but it will get easier. You WILL be blessed!