among lessons learned in seminary, this one was the most jarring, the most surprising, the most needed: learning to be at peace in & with silence. through my wonderful christian spirituality instructor, we were introduced to the practice of sitting in stillness and silence. we were led from the first intentionally silent moments of 2-3 minutes to eventually 20 minutes & longer. this practice of meditation and stillness is one that i loved and one that i need. i need to know how to BE in the moments of silence. as a minister & chaplain, these still, quiet moments are among those so dear to me: the woman who could not speak but whose touch was like touching the hand of God. silence while toughing the hands of so many... stories i could share, but i will hold within. in all likelihood, if you know what connection through silence + touch that i am referring to, you KNOW within your own story.
i'm not talking about "i wish i had more quiet" or "there's so much noise" but the silence that comes from attending to one's surroundings, to quieting oneself from within. sitting still & quiet. listening to your breath & heartbeat. perhaps offering thanks for oneself by taking that time to care for the self. this practice of quieting yourself from within by spending meditative time with yourself & the universe provides the space for peace-making within. when you are at peace within yourself, you can move into the world sharing that inner peace & attending to others in the process. the silence that comes when being present to another by putting them first and you are just be-ing (where your mind is free and non-anxious, but able to clearly attend). you know these souls who can attend, who can show such care through their very presence. this silence is an intentional space that is created to offer caring, attending, and a listening presence. you can be the listening presence to the great goodness that surrounds you, or you can send out a message of hope, peace, and love to the world around you in this created space. these spaces aren't empty, but full of promise and hope and desire--all with few, if any words or actions. of course there are good spaces for words, too. the peaceful space where your mind is free may allow clarity in the words you speak, and provide an inner knowing of what's most appropriately said.
my attention is often focused on making, creating, baking, caring...you get the drift. like me, you may find yourself in need of that inner stilling, that movement from the who, what, when, where of life into a deeper knowing. a knowing and understanding that life is good and meaningful. life sometimes sucks. sometimes it's grand. life is full of infinite possibility. life is life.
in those still moments of silence, when you can move beyond and move into, i find myself bonding more closely to the breath of life that is taking place in & around me. as i move from one task to another, i make space for the quiet moments. i turn off the radio, roll down the windows (a gift) and breathe in life as it's lived while i drive by. i let email sit in the inbox and silence the phone. i take a social media/media sabbath. just me. being. thinking as little as possible. moving into a meditative space where the Creative Spirt, the Holy One, the God of Creation and I meet, finding a sacred space. breathing space. creating a sacred moment. my soul is fed and i have found the silence i have so longed for. a longing recognized as it's met.
my heart is full. i see the spaces where god is present, not in cracks along the sidewalk, but in the grass that grows through the cracks in the sidewalk. may the silent spaces bring new growth into our midst, breaking forth with new growth and new life.