Our world is constantly bombarded with noise. We aren’t able to stop our minds from going a thousand miles an hour and when we lose electricity or our internet connection goes out for a day we end up going insane. We have forgotten how to play outdoors, how to visit without the TV blaring, and how to have a proper dinner conversation without constantly checking our phones.
When I began the Retreat in Daily Life one of the first challenges I faced was how to identify and then shut off the noises both on the outside and on the inside. I needed to learn how to ignore the constant chatter, the tapes that wouldn’t stop playing inside my head, and the endless banter in order to truly be able to listen to God’s voice. In one of our group sessions, one of the spiritual directors said something to this effect, “being still doesn’t mean ‘hush, be quiet’, it means releasing our hands to God. Letting Him fill us.”
This really quote really helped put it into perspective for me. Instead of seeing stillness as being completely silent with no moving or fidgeting (a recipe for disaster for a hyperactive person like myself), I am now able to see that stillness simply means letting God be God. It’s about not trying to force ourselves on Him, but instead letting Him fill our frame.
The Holy Spirit works best when we are still. He doesn’t want to compete against the noise. He is like the silent but profound introvert who challenges us to truly listen to the wisdom pouring out of His mouth. Here exists the profound revelation that there is a difference between hearing and listening. That there is a difference between mumbling and talking. And ultimately, that there is a difference between time with God and time WITH God. I can be with a friend and still not really be WITH them if I mentally or emotionally tune out or become too preoccupied with what I am about to say next that I lose touch of their own needs and feelings. My temptation so often becomes to fill the air with meaningless words that I forget that often the greatest friendships exist in the ability to be quiet with one another. That often the greatest way to show love is by careful listening and that often the greatest service is in simply being still and available. Releasing the hand of doubts, frustrations, and anxieties and letting it be filled with Christ’s love and acceptance. Moving away from a me-only worldview into an eternal mindset that functions within true community.
One of the best ways to practice stillness is by engaging in a retreat like mode. In an upcoming post, I will be explaining a bit more about how we can make the Retreat in Daily Life a reality even in the midst of our busy schedules, but for now, let me say that retreat simply implies rest. It’s not about doing a million and one activities at a retreat centre two hours away from your home, it’s not about going a week with no cooking, cleaning or chores; it can be as simply as brewing yourself a cup of hot tea and setting some scones down on the table while you quietly journal or going for a 30 minute walk on some nature trails by the water.
Retreat is not optional. God created the Sabbath for us. He didn’t create it for us to become legalistic about it, but as a way to bless and rejuvenate us. He bids us to take a rest and nudges us to spend time with Him so that the Holy Spirit can more consistently flow into our lives.
My hope is that you will be able to take this moments to reflect and to walk with God as He draws you into closer fellowship and communion with Him.