Sound of Silence - JJ Landis
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Sound of Silence

silence water drop

 

What would you do if you had 37 hours of silence?

 

I had those hours at a Silent Sanctuary Retreat last weekend. I was asked to attend as a guest, to share with the group before the silence began.

 

When I told people I was going to a silent retreat, I got all kinds of looks and comments.

 

“You? Silent? Haha!” was one.

 

Some others (mostly from parents of young kids) were: “That sounds amazing.” “I am jealous.” “LUCKY!”

 

My favorite though was, “Why?”

 

Why, indeed! (My answer, “Ummm. I dunno.”)

 

Since I had never participated in such an event I wasn’t sure what to expect.

 

It had been an emotional week. I went into the retreat center Friday night with a two-day-old headache and utter exhaustion. All I could think about was rest.

 

They go together – silence and rest. Solitude. Peace.

 

Silence, rest, solitude, and peace are not popular things to strive for in our society. More admirable is to aspire for activity, work, value, esteem, possessions.

 

Did you hear of anyone making a New Year’s Resolution of “more rest” or “more solitude in 2016?” Did anyone emerge from the Christmas season speaking of rest, peace, and contentment? When I ask someone about a vacation, job, holiday, weekend, or whatever, it’s likely I will hear the bits that bring stress and the woes of all-consuming busyness.

 

It’s not so hard to go days, weeks, a lifetime without stepping away from the frenzy to take a breath. Distractions are plentiful: television, games, books, food, social media, friendships, church, volunteering, work, and on and on. I am quite skilled at keeping my mind spinning so that I won’t have any brain energy left to realize that my soul is weary and my spirit is dry.

 

Phileena Heurtz in her article Spirituality for Our Time: Solitude, Silence & Stillness said:

“God wants to meet us right there, in our uncomfortability, loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression. Avoiding the inner darkness by keeping busy, hyperactively plugged in doesn’t make the pain go away. It only grows and secretly drains the life of our true self.”

 

A quiet space and still body does not necessarily make for peace. Having the right atmosphere can help, but it is not a given that a silent space will produce a resting soul.

 

It takes deliberate action.

 

Part of my silent retreat was restful and filling. Some of it was heavy. Thick solitude weighed on me, causing me to think more than I am usually comfortable with. Having unscheduled time can be a dangerous thing.

 

I slept and read and prayed. I sought God for direction. I journaled. No big breakthroughs. No life-changing ideas. But a lot of peace. A lot.

 


 

(I know I didn’t explain the logistics of the retreat. You can find more info at Black Rock’s website.)

 

Image courtesy of holohololand at FreeDigitalPhotos

8 Comments
  • That time I forced my husband to do nothing
    Posted at 18:14h, 20 February Reply

    […] shared some here about my time of silence. I also came away with a sense that my husband would benefit from a silent […]

  • Stephanie
    Posted at 11:45h, 20 January Reply

    Believe it or not I just said to someone I need more peace and rest in my days. Working on it… Thx for the reminder.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 18:31h, 20 January Reply

      Right! Thanks Stephanie.

  • Evelyn
    Posted at 13:10h, 15 January Reply

    Good for you. So many Christian women I know struggle in this area that we think we need to “accomplish” the items on our to do list. What higher priority is there, though, than to listen for God and to God and it is not always easy to do that especially if you have children on top of everything else. I know that guilt is a wasted emotion and I struggle daily with it and with the “expectations” that I should have a perfect home and garden and children etc etc. Do you ever feel that you spend more time listening to human beings when what God expects from us is exactly as you describe: thinking, praying, sleeping, breathing. I am thankful to have discovered you< jJ, through a friend. Your blogs are inspiring to me. I am not in a position right now where I feel I can do some of these things such as write or attend a retreat so reading about it gives me hope that my season is near and others are helping pave the way. Thank you.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 17:26h, 15 January Reply

      Evelyn, Thank you for reading my blog and leaving such a thoughtful comment. I often feel I’m listening to people and the world instead of God and what’s best for myself. I will pray today for you!

  • Crystal
    Posted at 09:47h, 14 January Reply

    Your title caught me- because I’m desperately trying to work some quiet time in my schedule weekly. I wrote some resolutions last week to try to make that happen. But it DOES take so much intentionality/ it doesn’t just happen. It’s funny you mention our societies focus on keep busy because I do at times feel guilty for getting a sitter for my toddler while the big kids are at school just to sit still think and read and just be. I feel I should be getting the grocery shopping done, or checking off tasks! But Oh how much better we can be for our families /others when we care for ourselves too! Thank you for writing!

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 16:19h, 14 January Reply

      Thanks for this comment. You are doing the right thing! It’s so hard to swim against the current.

  • Peg
    Posted at 09:20h, 14 January Reply

    I’ve been wondering how it went and how you felt about it! Sounds like it was rewarding for you. Tell us more!

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