March: Week 4

How Solitude and Silence grows us

There is an important distinction between the disciplines of solitude and silence, and taking a few moments of “me time.” Stating the obvious, “me time” is all about “me”. The time spent in solitude and silence is all about “God and me”: it’s just the two of us.

Another way to view the disciplines of solitude and silence is to see them as a way of becoming your true self with God. Alone and present to God, there is no point in pretending or in polishing. In company with God alone, we are who we are.

But we are not stuck in this place. We are also a ‘work in progress’ as God continues his work of grace, transforming us to become more like the Lord Jesus. In company with God alone, we are becoming who we will be.

The beauty of the twin disciplines of solitude and silence is that, so often during this time of God-ward orientation, new thoughts arise, we become aware of fresh perspectives and conclusions are drawn.

The overflow: other contexts

This week we explore the ‘overflow’ of solitude and silence into other areas of our lives. Because we are growing into our true selves in company with God, other relationships, times and spaces are also changed.

Outside of your planned times of solitude or silence, in company with others, work on listening more. Ask questions. Speak less. Thomas aKempis wrote, “It is easier to be silent altogether than to speak with moderation.” In group settings, try to moderate you contribution to the conversation— especially if you are usually an extrovert. See if you can draw out more conversation from your more introverted friends.

We can enjoy times of solitude and silence in many locations beyond our favourite chair. Go for a walk alone, perhaps along a beach, in the bush, or in a park. Use it as a time for observation, thinking, reflection and prayer.

You might try visiting an old church building that is open to the public during the day. Quietly enter and sit or kneel for prayer. If you work in the city of Sydney, St Andrew’s Cathedral near Town Hall is a favourite of mine. Another is St Mary’s Cathedral on College Street— although the religious sculptures might not be everyone’s cup of tea!

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