There is a large part of Christian spirituality or practice or religion that deals with the quiet. This manifests it self in many ways, contemplative prayer, silent meditation, silence in worship. One of the things I wrestle with regularly is maintaining my own regular spiritual practice. My mentor/friend/fellow sojourner (one of those relationships that defies definition) is huge on spending time in and with the quiet. I have ALWAYS for as long as I can remember resisted this idea. First off I am simply too busy to be quiet. Secondly do you know what kind of terrifying crap comes up in my head in the quiet? It's awful from what could go wrong, to my deepest fears, my biggest regrets, the baggage I carry from growing up, and more. Who would willingly want to go there? NOT ME! I had tried silent meditation and can I tell you what always happens... a long to do list that I will forget the minute I leave my quiet space. Or I fall asleep. I would get so frustrated and then I would judge myself. Then I would be breaking one of he cardinal rules of this type of meditation, do not judge your thoughts. I tried and I tried and I gave up. I was too darn busy anyway, who has that kind of time when the to do list is as long as my arm?
I don't know if it is the demands of ministry or that later this month I will reach yet another half decade in the age department but I find that it is getting easier to enter the silence. It isn't lost on me that it could merely be living in South Dakota because while I am in a city I don't have to go far to leave the sounds of human life behind. I have found in the past month or so that I am actually TOO BUSY TO NOT ENTER THE SILENCE! It is totally and completely counter intuitive for me but it is true. When my mentor from the relationship that can't be defined reads this he will likely smile to himself. The silence though it is like embracing the mystery and the truth all at once. Perhaps because those two things are so wrapped up together we can never even hope to separate them into neat little piles. In that space I can encounter God in new ways. I can encounter my own truth in new ways. I can accept the mysteries of faith and life as just that. I can accept truth can be found in mysteries with no ending. Entering into the silence these days means I have fuel to face the rest of my day that feels insane and choppy and dislocated.
My quiet time as of late consists of a few things, writing (because it is like air) for non work purposes for at least ten minutes, praying a psalm, writing prayers, reading, and of course finally or sometimes first silent meditation. It isn't always pretty. It isn't always perfect (hard for me to accept). Yet it always is something. Even when it feels rushed it has value. It still is unsettling at times but it also helps me to accept my own imperfection, my own humanity, and extend for just a moment the grace I can easily extend to another to myself.
This practice has also opened me up in new ways. I heard this week affirming words from a friend and heard in them truth rather than playing it off as "being nice". I have been able to tap deeper into my creativity which at times it is like trying to get the last drop of water from a dry well. Lately though poetry has been just flowing out of me and other forms of creative writing. I have not become an excellent or profound poet, heck I haven't even really shared it but none the less, the poetry has emerged again. Short stories are unfolding. Truths are being spoken and heard.
When I take those moments out of the break neck pace of the day I am the better for it. It allows my soul to dance a bit with the divine and that is life giving. It is what I am doing in this very moment, writing instead of working on the newsletter lay out because I know once I hit publish my focus will be better. I will be centered.
I am finally grateful for the quiet, for the silence.