Lenten Reflections–Silence

Silence is a difficult practice.  Stillness brings a gathering storm of ideas and ideas and ideas, the constant firing of synaptic lightening.  The truth is, I am not well practiced in the art of peace.

There are messages to decipher in those first quiet moments.

The friend whose wife used to shatter and puddle like a fallen rain drop, she freezes now, blows away, gathers with the rest of the used-up wives in the middle of the snow drift.  Truth is, Amber’s been part of that snow drift but there is grace for that too.  There are always second chances.

It’s almost spring now, I think, and I am thankful for the rain again.  The surprise lilies have come up early, gambling against an April frost.  Not the azaleas, though.  They are more reserved.  They’ve weathered more than a few Arkansas winters and they know that it’s best to be patient.

Occupation comes like a flood, too.  The endless checklist of revolving perpetuity.  We toil under the sun day after day, and to what end?

These thoughts advance like sheets of rain across a Kansas plain.  But dear God, these are not the thoughts of the quieted spirit.

Are they?

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10 Responses to Lenten Reflections–Silence

  1. The poet David Whyte has said the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest but wholeheartedness…I’ve thought about that, thought about it alot. When discussions of silence arise I’m reminded of Whyte’s words…those discussions are usually prompted by a form of mental exhaustion. I wonder if the antidote to such is not necessarily silence, but wholeheartedness. I don’t know, that may be stupid.

    • sethhaines says:

      I don’t think that’s stupid at all. I’ve been reading a good bit lately by Nouwen and he makes the points that one can use many words but have complete inward silence in the heart. I’m not quite sure if this is the same as whole-heartedness, but it seems akin somehow.

      I don’t know… maybe that was a stupid thing for me to say? I’m gonna noodle your ideas a bit Herr Blase.

  2. The truth is, silence, stillness – this is hard for all of us. I have learned a lot about it in the past 15 years, but I am a novice still. Choosing a centering word or phrase can help. Being gentle with yourself when your mind wanders all over, that is also good. Taking 15-20 minutes regularly to sit still and find center – this is good, too. But just taking the time, on purpose, to be by yourself – to walk or sit and look around at where you are and to listen to what you hear, to release the tension in your neck and shoulders (or wherever you carry tension) — that’s the ticket. And that’s pretty much what you’re describing here, seems to me.

    And I love that idea of ‘wholeheartedness.’ And I do think that’s what Nouwen is talking about in that quote. Thanks for this, Seth.

    • Kiki Malone says:

      I’m worried to see my students constantly with earbuds and iPods blaring in their ears, and I’m not surprised when they have difficulty thinking creatively and critically. They have zero time and space to think! And I know if I’m struggling with creative and critical thinking, and I’m fairly intentional about it, then they certainly struggle even more.

      I’m with Diana: it’s tough to do this stuff. It’s tough to let go, to invite and to allow quiet. And practice is the key. I like your challenge to intentionally take a few minutes here and there to find center. I recently began waiting for my wife in the afternoons outside the school, on a bench, nothing to read or listen to or focus on. I used to wait for her inside my office with music and internet flashing all around me, gobbling up that one last brilliant thought of the day. In just a short time, I’ve noticed that I feel much less grumpy when I get home in the afternoons. It’s so simple, what you’re saying, and that’s probably why we so readily ignore the act of silence and meditation. Perhaps we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking silence and meditation are beneath us when they are exactly where we need to be more often. Thanks, Diana.

    • sethhaines says:

      Thanks for these thoughts, D.

  3. Amy says:

    This is one of the biggest transitions a lot of my coworkers experience when they move to China. Most of us live in large cities that are NOISY and have come from places (often in the States) that are not the 24/7 noise assault. It “seems” to be much easier to find quiet in the US — our homes are larger, the space between homes is greater, we can hop in a car and “be in nature” relatively easily. But as you point out, silence isn’t only impacted by surrounding! It’s as much internal as external.

    • sethhaines says:

      Sometimes I think that noise follows us in the modern society. Regardless of whether we live in the city or the boonies, that noise creeps through this webbernet space, the televions, books, etc. But I think you are right. I’m glad that I can roll into nature from time to time and sit in the silence.

      Thanks for stopping in.

  4. Scott says:

    Good thoughts everyone. Beyone silence and time for reflection I believe that we are all peace-deficient. If we surround ourselves with noise it might just be that we are afraid of what we would hear if we stopped. Paul started most of his epistles with “Grace and Peace to you”…or “Grace and Peace be multiplied unto you…” Peace is superior to quiet. Quiet is good, but peace is holistic. Peace is quiet amidst the noise. Peace is the fruit of Grace. It’s a funny thing to strive, a clammoring even, for quiet. Clammoring is loud and unproductive (unless you’re 3). When our hearts are gripped with grace, peace is the inevitible fruit. May our hearts be captivated by the Grace of God in Christ so that we find true quiet and peace not having to strive for anything.

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