Entering the silence

The presence of silence can have a thickness like incense hanging heavy in the air.  When silence appears as a spirit, a presence, then a great deal can be learned if silence is willingly embraced.  In these gifted moments, the presence of silence must be listened to as if it were the greatest sage of holy wisdom, the very voice of God.

Gil Stafford, When Leadership and Spiritual Direction Meet

Silence.  That for which my heart longs and yet from which it runs.  For silence has a way of settling the heart, reducing the distractions, facing me with my sin, bringing me to the Saviour.

I talked about it for half the day on Monday.  More or less.  I talked about it and then I made the students try it.  It was only ten minutes.  Hardly enough to do more than shine spotlight on internal chaos.  But some of them began to see, perhaps, why I hunger after this silence like it is all that will keep me alive.

Three and a half years ago I went into silence for four days.  It was the first time and I was anxious.  But I know now that the silence comes up to greet me like long-lost friend.  I know now its depth and grace.

And I know, too, that this alone will heal me.  For in this season I have taught many things which my heart has forgotten how to know.  Things of God’s otherness and our reflection of his very being, of glory intertwined with suffering.  Tales of a spirituality of the received wisdom and of one which questions and cries hebel, of spirituality found in desert cave and rhythms found in monastery.

Yes, I have taught so many things which my heart has known and yet which, in the teaching this term, it seemed to know now as only distant echo.

But, in the tension of these, silence is my hope.  For it will face me with the chaos.  Draw me back to life centred in stillness, a contemplation of the One who is worthy.

And so I enter the silence.

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