The act of Silence + Solitude is a tricky beast, and one that I’ve been struggling with the past ~ 7 days. While it wasn’t easy, the uncomfortable has rooted me in the fact that it is oh-so-necessary to be able to thrive in this world. I realized quickly that the more uncomfortable you are in S+S, the more you need it. And boy, do I have the highest need of all.
What I’ve noticed more than everything is that you have to really trust God in the Silence, because without Him guiding it, your mind can wonder back into this life- a to-do list, a conversation you need to have, a work issue, a family miscommunication, etc. That’s how I was, at least. Societal implications + distractions run rampant in our subconscious, and when you choose to just sit and experience silence, they come to the forefront. I have yet to master how to completely clear my mind, but Ruth Haley Barton in the book “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” gave me a little encouragement. When she was going through this same spiritual discipline and cultivating it, someone told her:
“Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.”
I read that at the beginning of this journey last week, and man has that been so so grace-giving. That it isn’t going to be perfect as soon as I sit down in His Presence- that it takes time for everything to settle, and even one murmur of a shake (i.e. an outside influence or an emotional slip-up) can reset that completely.
I can’t tell you how many times in my S+S time this week (10 minutes a day, will be upping to 20 minutes this next week) that I was *feeling* clear and then realized I had been re-hashing a conversation in my mind from the day before. Or thinking up a memory that has no bearing on my today from three years ago. Slipup’s, yes, but man is He faithful- while I haven’t “heard” something from him every day (which takes so much time and practice- for Elijah, 40+ days! Read 1 Kings 19:1-21 for more), I have felt my personal clock + soul slow down. Those 10 minutes a day have had a reverberating effect on the rest of my day. I can’t explain it, but I don’t have to be able to. It’s just a stark difference that can only be attributed to the change in my day to day to intentionally incorporate Silence + Solitude.
It hasn’t been easy, but oh has it been so worth it.
I’ll leave you with a bit more Ruth said about being a jar of river water, which I fully identify with at this particular point in my journey. I hope this offers you some grace in this practice, and some perspective:
“But even though my mind had a hard time grasping what this settling would actually be like, the image of the jar of river water captured what I knew to be true about myself. I could not avoid the realization that I was the jar of river water all shaken up and the sediment that swirled inside the jar was the busyness, the emotions, the thoughts, the inner wrestlings I had not been able to control. It was a moment of self-discovery – which is where all good spiritual journeying begins.”
To learn more about the inspiration behind my intentional practice of Silence + Solitude (and more spiritual disciplines over the course of the next ~ 7 months), click any of the following: