Silence brings stillness, and in that stillness God speaks.
by the Rev. Lisa Mason
We encounter God in times of great joy and celebration, and we find God in the midst of noisy chaos and intense crisis. God speaks through music, worship, our daily work, times of rest and relaxation, and in conversations with one another. God reveals God’s self in literature and through laughter and in tears. But it is in the silence that I hear God most clearly. Silence brings stillness, and in that stillness God speaks.
We live in a world that is filled with noise so we must intentionally seek silence. If we wait for silence to somehow find us, we are in for a long wait; we must seek spaces and places of silence. In those places of silence, we must invite ourselves to be present or show up to God’s presence so that the internal noise of our thoughts and our inner dialog don’t block out the voice of God or shield us from God’s presence.
How do I find silence? I seek God’s presence in the early hours of the morning before the “world” in which I live and move and have my being wakes up. I usually seek a favorite corner of the sofa in which to curl up or I go out in the backyard. I begin this time by saying my prayers and then literally inviting myself to be present and to be listening. If early morning is not your favorite time of day, then find another time that works such as a mid afternoon break or at night before bed.
If you are a runner or a walker, find times when the neighborhood is quiet and go with God. Do not discount those times when you find yourself restless or unable to sleep at night; use those as non anxious times with God. Cherish even the moments of silence you can find throughout your day.
When you reach to turn on the car radio, stop and just rest in the silence. Find 5 minutes in between meetings just to be quiet with yourself and God. In seminary, one of my professors began each class by saying, “be present to God’s presence” followed by a short period of silence. When I utter those words, my mind quiets down and my soul opens up so that I might encounter God and my soul is revived.
God speaks through creation, a glorious sunrise, a walk on the beach, the view from a mountain top, or the quiet gurgling of a stream. It is in the silence, that God opens my mind and my heart to how God is working in my life and how I am to follow the path that God desires for me to take on my journey.
I also must encounter my own heart and mind at rest in order to really check in on my well being. If we neglect or fail to be aware of our state of being, we miss or deny ways to restore, or nourish our body, heart, and mind. In silence and stillness, I come face to face with myself and the presence of God with no space for distractions or excuses. This time of silence with God and myself is the nourishment I need to be spiritually renewed and filled so that I may be truly present with others.
During these times, God puts certain people on my heart for prayer or plants seeds for new ministry in my heart or is just simply and blessedly present. Long periods of starvation from silence with God leave me grumpy, frazzled, and not able to function with clarity and peace of mind. The source of my energy and hope filled enthusiasm is God and the gift of living out of that joy comes from time with God in stillness and silence.
If silence and stillness is not already part of your spiritual practice, then I invite you to take a moment to reflect the space and time in your life in which you can most easily seek silence. Be gentle on yourself. Be patient. Start small and experiment until you find the practice of silence that brings you close to the presence of God and gives you new life.
The Rev. Lisa Mason is rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio TX. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.