Not Being Uncomfortable in the Silence
In 2016, I did something that others called crazy. They never even believed such a thing existed and refused to even consider the option of doing it for themselves. Many people thought that it would drive them insane and others said they preferred the company of people much more. None the less, I still went off and did a silent retreat for 5 days.
I trekked from London to another town called Devon and attended a Christian Community called Lee Abbey, where there was no Wi-Fi - apart from a small zone and definitely no phone signal. Now, you can see why people called me crazy, right? But I needed to rest. I needed time to be still and know (Psalm 46:10).
I will never forget, the three hour coach ride, and then the 1 hour lonnnng country drive to Lee Abbey. I decided to get on the phone to my mum and just fill her in on the journey so far, and half way on my trip – my phone lost signal.
Immediately, I felt like I had made a mistake. The reality of not talking to anyone for the next five days, let alone my mum began to sink in, the penny had finally dropped – it was just God and I. Although, that didn’t stop me from being so emotional, I’ll admit I cried a little once I first arrived – I still believe to this day it was a combination of reality meeting exhaustion.
Now the aim of my whole five days, was to grow in dialogue and conversation with God but in complete silence, we were obviously allowed to speak to God in prayer and other ways, but there was to be no contact or communication with others around us or who was also participating in the silent retreat.
This meant that breakfast, lunch and dinner were in complete silence. We all had a private dining room that was separated from the others and we didn’t speak. A highlight though, was of the table deciding to drop one dinner time, and 8 people managing to fix this table in SILENCE. It was truly incredible.
Silence can be extremely uncomfortable because we begin to notice the things about ourselves, maybe our surrounding or even thoughts we believed we managed to suppress all comes to the surface. However, in the silence we underestimate the things that God wants to tell us.
Now, I’m not saying that we all should go on a silent retreat (although, I totally would!). But I am saying that we shouldn’t run from silence, we should remember that when we are still, and we stop speaking or singing, we have room for listening to God and for His divine presence to fall upon us. Let’s remove the stigma of uncomfortableness being related to silence and instead replace it with the notion that in silence we hear God speak and we allow an opportunity of growth to take place.
Father, I pray for your Spirit to fall among us and when we refuse to sit and be in silence, can you remind us of your presence and how you speak to us. Amen.