If I were to pick a theme for my year, 2018 would be about finding space. Several life changes have happened in the past 6 weeks or so and I'm finding new bits of space in my day and in my mind. I'm enjoying it immensely. Yet, my heart longs for something more. It wants silence. Silence is a rare thing in my life so maybe that's why I'm craving more of it. We always want what we don't have, right? Well, not always.I haven't always loved silence. I used to fill all the quiet spaces in my day with activity. I realize now that I was avoiding silence. Counseling is good for revealing these things. :) Silence and space made me uncomfortable. They allowed thoughts and feelings to come to the surface. Thoughts and feelings I didn't know what to do with. So I filled the silence and the space. Problem solved.That worked for 30 years. And then... it didn't work anymore. Thank goodness for counseling! It took me a year of quiet spaces to deal with those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. It took silence in my day and in my soul for God to have room to heal the broken places in my heart. To make me whole.What is it about space and silence that heals? And how do we find space and silence that heals in the midst of packing lunches, rushing to violin lessons and dating our spouses? These questions have been circling round and round in my head. I cannot let them go.
Richard Foster describes a disciplined practice of re-focusing our hearts amidst silence that he calls "recreating silence." What a great phrase! Two words we don't usually put together. But put them together and you get something entirely new. I love it for that reason. Recreating makes me think of vacations, kayaking, hiking, BBQ's. Busy fun. Silence is the exact opposite. It's libraries and nurseries and chapels. Not busy. Maybe not fun. But rethink "recreating." Literally, it's "creating again." Re-creating. So, silence can be a tool in God's hand used to create my heart again, anew.Recreating silence. Foster explains it as something different than a "Quiet Time" or Bible study time or even a prayer time. It's a time when we become completely silent, putting away any spiritual agenda or specific prayer requests. Take those distractions and put them aside. Just focus on being silent and listening for God to speak straight to the heart. It's a space set aside for higher thoughts and deeper focus.I love recreating silence because it's not about me. It's about God and what He's doing in me. I can partner with God by intentionally creating the space and the silence and by doing so, I am making myself open to the work God wants to do in me. But it is not my work. He is the Creator. Therefore, it stands to reason that He is also the Re-Creator. My soul is lighter knowing healing is available because the Healer is ABLE where I am not.
"Surrender your anxiety!Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God." ~Psalm 46:10 (The Passion Translation)
Silence is required to hear the still small voice of God. It's in the silence that God speaks to us, not just about big things, but also, or maybe most commonly, about the everyday things. It's in the silence that God nudges my heart to confess to a friend about a harsh word I spoke earlier in the week. It's in the silence that God gives me a new idea to help my child with big emotions. It's in the silence that God gives me hope for my future. Courage to take a new path. Boldness to lay aside worry about my lungs. It's in the silence where I find healing.
Hospitals undestand this about silence. The walls outside my hospital rooms displayed this mural-sized message, "Quiet please. This is a healing space." Even doctors have figured out that dedicated space for silence can help our bodies heal.Foster agrees. He makes an argument for intentionally practicing recreating silence in a set place. One that is not distracting. One that helps re-focus our thoughts on God and not on our circumstances.
My heart immediately longs for my “Swedish Mom’s” back porch on Bainbridge Island. She lives on the water. On her back deck, you will find two cozy benches and a million dollar view. Oh, and space. Lots of undistracting, quiet space. I like to sit on those benches with a hot cup of tea and just be still. It's a quiet cove so the sounds of the water are calming, not like the crashing waves near where I grew up. Sighting a bald eagle or a landing sea plane is Always a possibility. It's a place where I can be still. A place that makes it easy to think of things above.
Since I can't be on Bainbridge Island every day, I look to my backyard. That is a space that always draws my heart heavenward. It's not perfectly undistracting. We do have very hot summers here in NorCal and our neighborhood has some rather obnoxious dogs. But it is a start. I want a space, like Meilynn's back porch, where I can finally be completely still and silent. I'm discovering that I can read my Bible just about anywhere, but I can't find silence as easily. I want silence. I want to put myself in that silent space for God to mold me and make me just the way He has designed me to be. I want it bad enough to sacrifice for it. I'm convinced it's worth the sacrifice. So, I'm thinking. Thinking. Thinking.
Since my kids just started attending traditional school and we have stopped homeschooling, I have a unique opportunity. I can rearrange some furniture and make a dedicated recreating silence place inside my house. I'll keep you posted when I've figure it out. Meanwhile, I'm trying out recreating silence in the space I already have. I've been surprised that, unlike a Bible study or a Quiet Time, I do not need to practice recreating silence daily for it to change me. Perhaps it is like going to worship at church on Sundays. Once a week is a good disciplined practice. More may be better, but once a week is a good start.Have you experienced recreating silence? Not just a Quiet Time. But silence. S-I-L-E-N-C-E.
Try it. Tell me how it goes.