I live in a noisy country. There is no snow and all the buildings are made of concrete so sound bounces all over the place. And while I don’t necessarily miss the cold and snowy winters of Michigan and New York, I do miss the silence a good snowfall brings. It’s always been one of the things I noticed first thing in the morning after a snowstorm; the silence. It just makes everything seem so peaceful and it gives me pause to reflect on what the Lord has done in my life.
Silence and Solitude is another spiritual discipline I have recently worked to develop in my life. The concept was new to me in the sense that I did not realize it could be developed for the purpose of spiritual growth. Then, of course, I had that moment when the palm hits the forehead and I said, “Well, duh! It’s all right there in the Bible.” Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (NKJV). The psalmist understood that knowing God better and exalting Him in one’s life is best achieved through silence and solitude. Elijah learned the value of silence when he listened for God’s still, small voice in 1 Kings 19:12-14. However, the example of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane is probably the most profound. Matthew 26:36 states, “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’” (NKJV). The Lord Jesus knew His hour of suffering was at hand and felt the need to be alone with His Father in a place apart from the others. The incident served to give Him the strength He needed to endure the terrible ordeal that was to come. It’s also what I need to do to face whatever the Lord may have for me. Facebook is enjoyable but it is not where I should run first when looking for strength and courage to press on in life. Comments from my friends about my status are fun and often uplifting, but it is the still small voice in my garden of Gethsemane that will give me the strength I need for the day.
Let me define the words before I go any further. According to Whitney, “silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought” (p. 184). I can see my mother choking on her coffee on this one. I was not known for holding my tongue when I was younger and I still have a hard time keeping quiet. A few pages later Whitney makes a statement that brought me up short. He says, “…the one who doesn’t know how or when to be silent doesn’t know how or when to speak” (p. 193). I think he just said a mouthful.
“Solitude is the Spiritual Discipline of voluntarily and temporarily withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes” (p. 184). This was illustrated in the example of Elijah and Jesus above. They felt the need to get away from everyone and spend some time alone with God.
Now, in my defense, I was making an attempt to practice these disciplines in my life. I’m usually the first one up in the morning and try to make the most of that time. The outside noise is still at a minimum, the inside noise is manageable with the gurgling of the coffee maker, the dogs crunching on their food and the refrigerator humming. It’s the time I use to read my Bible—I’m working through the book of Isaiah a few verses at a time—I spend time in prayer and just mentally prepare myself for the day. And I don’t say much other than, “Knock it off,” to the dogs. Oh, and I am always sipping a cup of coffee from the heart shaped mug my mother gave me. This quiet time has made a difference in my perspective on life and been like that deep breath we take before we forge ahead with the day’s demands. It’s been good.
So, I’ve found that even with all the noise with which life in this country bombards me, I can find peace and quiet. It’s in practicing the disciplines of silence and solitude and it makes life seem a little more like that snowy morning in New York. It’s just quiet…
Whitney, D. S. (1991). Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs: NavPress.Para os meus amigos Brasileiros: