A little more than a year ago, Janice McWilliams, a friend and mentor, asked in her post “Be Quiet! The New Year in Silence,”
“Is silence something that your soul needs in order to show up and speak to you? What subtraction will entice your soul?”
Though I didn’t know it at the time, my soul answered this question earlier that year when I felt a deep longing for the peace and silence of the outdoors. I decided that I wanted to subtract video game and internet time to instead fish and camp. These activities are vehicles for me to spend time alone in beautiful, restorative places in God’s creation, prayerfully reflecting on His power and creativity. My quest for silence culminated in a 7-day canoe trip through the Canadian wilderness this past summer, which was incredibly restorative and still bolsters my spirit even now.
A year later, at the annual Mid-Atlantic InterVarsity men’s staff retreat, I realized that I’ve lost my way a bit. While I’ve been very disciplined about solitude, my solitude hasn’t included silence. I’ve had a weekly sabbath day, but as the colder weather set in I began largely using my day off to play video games, watch TV, and surf the internet. I naively thought that solitude equals silence when in fact they are two different spiritual disciplines, both of which must be ruthlessly pursued and protected. Joe Moore, InterVarsity’s National Co-Director of Spiritual Formation and Prayer, noted that “solitude can yield silence, which in turn can yield stillness.” It is in that stillness that we can meet with and hear from God.
With this realization here at the beginning of Lent, I am recommitting to seeking silence. I am putting a weekly time limit on my gaming, and generally reining in my device usage. I’ll use the freed up time and airspace to read the Bible, pray, reflect, read Christian books or parenting books, and take care of chores and responsibilities that I’ve procrastinated on.
Have you made regular space for silence in your life? Are you subtracting anything for Lent in order to “entice your soul?”