We recently started a series discussing Tony Jones book, ‘The Sacred Way;’ Looking at following Christ as a holistic ‘way,’ rather than just a set of beliefs. Some of us are trying to re-practice our beliefs, and others of us are trying to see our spirituality through the lens of common practice. For helpful discussion, Jones separates spiritual practice into the categories of ‘contemplative’ and ‘active;’ representing the inward and outward journey of faith.
Last Sunday night we talked about the foundational contemplative practice of silence and solitude.
We read about Jesus, who had a rhythm of action and retreat. We discussed the story and history of the Desert Fathers & Mothers, who were pioneers of this practice. We also discovered it’s important to start with the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how.’ Some often look for tangible results from silence and solitude; whether it’s some mystical experience of God, a voice from above, or a radical change of behavior. Really, though these might happen to some occasionally, the ‘why’ is much different.
Silence and solitude can be ways to create space in our lives for other more active practices (like sacred reading/meditation, etc.). And at its core however, the practice of silence and solitude is about disconnecting from the clutter and noise of our lives, to create space to listen. So we then can re-enter our day more attentive to God, ourselves, and others.
“Ultimately, we keep silence and solitude so we can listen better…”
“Spiritual writers, ancient and modern, are unanimous in saying that silence and solitude lead to a love of God, a love of self, and a love of others.” -Tony Jones, ‘The Sacred Way’
So the challenge this week is to take a few moments to practice silence and solitude.
As you try on this practice, especially if you’re new to this or it’s been a while, start slow… following the Sacred Way is a marathon not a sprint. Maybe start with just a few minutes. As you start, notice your breath, and don’t try to ignore distractions… instead embrace them and then let yourself release them. If it’s helpful, use a verse of Scripture or a meaningful saying to put your focus on. And most of all, try to come in with no expectations! Just allow whatever needs to happen between you and the Spirit… whether big, small, or nothing noticeable at all!