Thursday, July 14, 2011

Solitude and Silence as a Spiritual Discipline

Solitude as a spiritual discipline is choosing to be alone, isolated from other people, to refresh oneself and reconnect with God.  We deny ourselves human contact, for a time, for the purpose of increased awareness of God.  We close ourselves away; we go to the ocean, to the desert, to a park, to the forest, or beside a stream. 

Solitude frees us, actually.  The normal course of day-to-day interactions with other people locks us into patterns of behavior, emotion, and feelings that are set against God. We just get caught in the agitation of others and it destroys our inner calm.  Nothing but solitude can liberate us.  From the distance of solitude we gain an eternal perspective of the things that trap, worry, and oppress us.

Silence as a spiritual discipline is choosing to turn off the noise.  In silence we close off our souls from sounds of words, music, and technology.  Our homes, cars, and workplaces are filled with the whirring, buzzing, murmuring, and chattering of the contraptions that are supposed to make our life easier.

For most of us silence is eerie.  We are uncomfortable with it.  Noise comforts us in some curious way.  In fact, we find silence shocking because it leaves the impression that “nothing is happening.”  Think of what it says about our inward emptiness if we must always turn on the music, cell phone, laptop, or TV to make sure that something is happening around us.  Yet, it is in the silence that we hear God the best.

Silence strips us as nothing else does.  It reminds us of death, which will cut us off from all the noise, and leave only us and God.  In the discipline of silence, I am conscious that it’s just “me and God.” 

Solitude and Silence are important to me.  I have written about it before on this blog.  I teach it in seminar 201, encouraging people to read their Bible and journal.  Me and Renae talked about it last night.  Too much noise drowns out the voice of God.  It’s time to reduce the noise.

If your heart is too crowded, begin living a simpler life.

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