Finally, I am caught up with the readings!!! And have a chance to write a reflection…
I want to focus on the reading for Nov. 20, “Silence after Compline”, and Chittister’s reflection on the value of silence. For many of us there is very little silence in our lives. Music or television fills the air with sound. Perhaps even more significantly, we post how we are doing all day long on Facebook or Twitter -and get ‘instant’ reaction and response. Or we don’t – and then we worry, or decide to come up with a new and more interesting status (and worry about whether this means we have an uninteresting life, or friends who do not really care, or…) It means there is very little chance for solitude. Very little opportunity to listen and learn to recognise our own voice, let alone the voice of G-d!
Joan Chittister says, “until we are able to have at least a little silence every day, both outside and in, both inside and out, we have no hope of coming to know either God or ourselves very well.” (p. 196) How much silence is in your day? I know there are days when I cannot have music or the radio on during my drive home, because there has been so little silence up till that point. I try and build in time for silence in my morning routine, but sometimes I am too tired to listen then. (Yes, you need to listen to silence…) And that’s why I value ‘Stop. Breathe. Listen.’ on Tuesday afternoons in the chapel, as well as trying to build silence into our Sunday worship.
Mind you, there are times when silence is too difficult, too painful. Times when our pain is almost too great to bear, and silence means there is no relief, means that it overwhelms us and makes it impossible to listen or even live. I think then it is worth remembering that there is a great difference between being silent on your own, and being silent as a group. My mother was Quaker when I was growing up, and there was a tremendous power in those Sunday Meetings, the entire group sitting in silence, listening for G-d, being attentive and present without words. There is something powerful on Sundays at St. Bede’s when we do group lectio, praying/reflecting in silence as a group. Or when we sit together in silence after communion each Sunday. Perhaps during those times when we are unable to enter into silence on our own, we need to find communities where we can be silent and listen together.
Shhhh…. Listen…Breathe…Know that G-d loves you and has a word (or more!) to say to you.