Ian Morgan Cron was asked where he saw signs of resurrection. He relates a retreat he led for worship leaders and what he discovered and what he is discovering. While not everyone will agree with what he says about worship trends, I love what he says about silence and noise. Perhaps it is time to realize that:
It is best to learn to silence the faculties and to cause them to be still, so that God may speak. – St. John of the Cross
Silence from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.
Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 When you are disturbed, do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
7 You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.
8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
via Psalm 4 (NRSV) – Biblia.com.
There is much good to ponder in this Psalm. David knew what it was like to have enemies. David was also confident that God heard his prayers. He knew that his enemies would not be victorious. Instead, God would answer.
The time between crying out to God, and feeling that God has answered is uneasy. It is easy to fear and fret. It is also easy to try to take matters into our own hands. Notice what David does here. After he prays, he reflects on what his response should be. Here is how I would list this response: Continue reading
It is no secret that North American culture is a noisy culture. It is difficult for many people to turn off their TV or radio. It isn’t that people are watching or listening to it, but rather, the noise makes us feel comfortable, or like we aren’t alone. Add to that the explosion of music and musical genres, the ability with mp3 players to listen to your music anywhere and everywhere, we end up with very little time for silence. All this noise has caused us to loose our center.
There are segments who are calling for more silence, but for many modern Christians the call goes unheeded. The Buddhists, among others, have found benefit from silence. Those who spend time in meditation tell of its calming effects. There is even more power and peace for the Christian who discovers silent centering on Christ.
Silence has been an important discipline throughout Church history. In the modern church it seems largely lost. Instead we focus on pragmatic activity, busyness, and activism. We struggle with silence because we feel like we “aren’t really doing anything.” In our modern culture we feel that the only thing that matters is what we ‘do.’ If we do take time for silence, we may even feel guilty.
Yet, in the silence we discover our center. In the silence we can discover peace (true peace). In the silence we discover our center, Who is Christ. In the silence we discover our purpose so our actions aren’t merely activism. Through silence we are able to allow our actions flow from our center, rather than living in the realm of reactionism. Through silence we are able to see how much of our living is shallow and trendy.
Of course silence comes easier for some than for others. God has made each of us differently with comforts and preferences. However, silence is beneficial for all. As we discover the gift of silence, for it is a gift, we discover a peace we never knew before and a Center who is Christ. Perhaps, the first spiritual discipline we should incorporate into our lives is silence. Silence will flavor everything else.
As we got out of the car I felt different. For the past couple of months my soul had been aching. I had been longing for something that was missing. For the past several years I felt I was groping in the dark. It was easy to hide this groping because those around me were groping to. We don’t always talk about it, in fact, it is rarely that we even acknowledge it. Like two people passing one asking “How are you doing”, the other answering “just find thanks” we simply continue on our way without thinking about the answer, or the question. So, we fill our lives and our souls with projects, programs, and possessions that help us take our mind off the real issues within our spirits. We turn, or rather run, away from John Wesley’s question, “How goes it with your soul.” It could be that we don’t understand the question. It sounds like a different language to us. It might be that we don’t know how to respond to the question. We have become so good at allowing the noise of life to crowd us that we are no longer comfortable with the silence it takes to answer such a question. All around us sounds abound. Of course there are times we take to get away, to leave the noise to others, to find a place to think and reflect, but those times are rare. We have been unable to cultivate a sense of silence and wonder into our everyday life. So, as we pulled up to the convent things ‘felt’ different. I can’t explain it. It was as if a puzzle piece was moved and finally everything fit. The flurry (activity, not ice cream) of my life was replaced with a familiar, yet far away friend. Sister Magdalene showed us around the facilities. There were rooms with beds and showers. There were meeting rooms. There was a library and even a bookstore. Perhaps the most impressive item there was silence. The rooms looked a lot like hotel rooms. Yet, there was one vital difference. There was not a TV or a Telephone in any of the rooms. The difference between these rooms and those in a hotel was simply that silence was expected. People were there not to get away from life, rather, people came there enter into life. It isn’t the silence that takes us away from our lives, it is the silence that helps us to enter into our lives. Our true lives. As we got out of the car, even though I had left home, I was in fact coming back home. Home to where my Father was waiting. Home to the Open Arms. Home to the robe of acceptance and the ring of belonging. The noise was gone. In the silence I heard the Father of Life. In the silence of letting go of the noise, I discovered the one thing, the only thing that I needed.