Silence

WU lake docPastor Charles Swindoll once wrote:

Do you find yourself victimized by the noisy, busy, over-crowded world in which you spend many hours of your life? Is it leaving you spiritually insensitive, sort of a business-as-usual attitude toward the church you attend or the Bible Study you used to enjoy? How about prayer? Noise and crowds have a way of siphoning our energy and distracting our attention, making prayer an added chore rather than a comforting relief. You may even feel a low-grade depression sweep over you as the absence of stillness and silence takes its toll. [1]

Those words resonate with me. How about you?

The most transformative spiritual practice I’ve learned in the past 25 years is Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is sitting intentionally in God’s presence in silence, allowing thoughts to arise and float by like leaves on a stream. It’s ridiculously simple. And it’s incredibly difficult.

According to a recent article in a local paper most people, especially men, would rather be subjected to electric shocks than be left alone with their thoughts. Seriously. You can read the article here.

I find that few people are searching for a spirituality that focuses primarily on what happens after you die; however, many of us are hungry for a spirituality that helps us to fully live before we die. But that kind of spirituality is, to quote Eugene Peterson, “a long obedience in the same direction”. It simmers at the speed of a crock pot, not a microwave. And the witness of many saints both past and present is that silence is a primary ingredient.

“Mama Maggie” Groban, a Coptic Christian from Cairo, Egypt, who is a 2012 Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her efforts in founding a ministry that serves the poor in Cairo, once said,

The silence is the secret, the first step, to finding treasure.
Silence your body to listen to your thoughts.
Silence your thoughts to listen to your heart beating.
Silence your heart to listen to your spirit.
Silence your spirit to listen to [God’s] Spirit.

Are you looking for a spirituality that will help you to more fully live before you die? Hungry enough for spiritual transformation to give silence a try? This 8-minute video by Father Thomas Keating can get you started, and starting is the most important step of all.

And if you’ve found helpful strategies for dealing with “Monkey Mind”, the tendency of healthy minds to fill with all sorts of random thoughts, songs and images while dwelling in silence, share them by leaving a comment.

[1]  Charles Swindoll, Intimacy with the Almighty (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1999) pp. 41-42

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