Have you ever had one of those moments when you look out at new-fallen snow—when the world is quiet, blanketed, by white? When it glitters in the sun? When you step out and it’s as if there’s not another being in the world? The snow seems to absorb the normal everyday sounds you’d hear . . . and it’s just quiet.
As a child growing up in Iowa and then Colorado, I had many of those wintertime moments. They’d often turn into dramatic turns of the imagination – in my mind I became a homesteading mother trapped in a North Dakota storm trying to find food for her family or a Inuit child seeking out her igloo during the worst storm in human history.
Now those mornings make me think of something else – of how precious, how rare, quietness is in our world . . . and in my life.
This month we’ll be exploring the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude. For modern-day women, these can seem like the toughest, most unattainable disciplines of all. Between work, family relationships (possibly including very NON-QUIET children!), home responsibilities, and general life chaos, times of stillness and calm are often few and far between.
Yet they’re essential for the spiritual life. Yes, I said essential. Jesus modeled this for us in his frequent trips alone to pray (see Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16 and 6:12). It’s important to be alone and to be quiet. Without this essential time, I believe we lose something of who we’re meant to be – and we lose a sense of perspective on our world. We become frantic do-ers rather than knowing what it is to be.
I struggle with this all the time, as I’m sure many of you do. There are seasons of life when alone-time or quietness are much rarer than in other seasons. I’m in one of those never-alone stages! Though there are times I’d certainly love to escape to a nunnery for some peace and quiet, I believe God’s desire is for me to experience him here in the nitty gritty of what my real life is actually life. And I believe he wants the same for you.
At its core, I believe silence is more about quietness of heart than a quiet environment. And solitude isn’t just about being alone; it’s about focusing one’s heart on the reality that you are not alone. It’s a purposeful awareness of the Other in the room with you – a “tuning in” to the reality that God is present in your life, in that moment.
This month we’ll look more deeply into what the twin disciplines of silence and solitude can look like in our lives and the value they bring to us spiritually. But for now, let’s just try to experience some. Start small: pick an early morning (or a late night, depending on your body-clock) and purpose to steal away for just 5 minutes. Five minutes to look out the window, to stare up at the sky, to drink a cup of coffee and calm your heart. Don’t do a Bible study, don’t journal. If you want you can pray – or just direct your thoughts toward God as you quiet yourself and try to just “be” for 5 minutes. Enjoy the moment . . .
(If you want, pop back in and leave a comment: How hard was it to find 5 minutes alone? Was it mentally tough to quiet yourself? What value did that time bring to your day?)