Awakening: Hearing Silence
A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction, and Soul Care.
Hi Everyone, I pray blessings upon you, that you are experiencing the presence of God in every moment of your days. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak in your heart. This week we continue to explore solitude and silence in the contemplative life. In week one we considered personal solitude, week two solitude together in Christian community, week three we considered solitude in the world. Now in week four we shift our focus to the spiritual discipline and experience of silence. As we did with solitude we will take a look at three aspects of silence. 1) Hearing silence. 2) Listening to sheer silence. 3) and Contemplative silence. We will then wrap up our reflection on silence with a special feature titled “Five predispositions for inner silence.”
Hearing Silence 1
Silence is not nothingness. In fact silence is alive and creative. But it takes discipline to develop the spiritual senses to enter into silence. Silence is the fruit of solitude that makes contemplative listening possible. Consider the following…
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
NRS Revelation 8:1
Use your sanctified imagination and ask yourself, “What does ’silence in heaven’ sound like?”
It is the inner chatter that keeps us enslaved.
Martin Laird, A Sunlit Absence, p. 72
Stop, right now, and monitor your inner chatter. What are you saying to yourself? What are you thinking? Pay attention to all that is going on inside you. Do this for 30 seconds. Now think of the name of Jesus. If your mind wanders go back to the name of Jesus, until you are only thinking of Jesus. Do this for 30-60 seconds. What happens to your inner chatter? Now ponder the following.
“What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God, silent with our craving and with our tongue, for the language God best hears is the silent language of love”
Kavanaugh and Rodriguez,
Sayings of Light and Love, p. 95
Silence in Spiritual Direction…
Silence and spiritual direction go hand in hand. The spiritual director must honor the silence of the other. The spiritual director must be comfortable with silence as it is very often in the silence when God’s voice becomes most clear. Silence is the context of contemplative listening.
“It is necessary that we find the silence of God not only in ourselves but also in one another.”
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, pg.86
Silence is not passivity, as we listen to silence we are positioned to listen for and to hear God, who is active in us, as we listen to the voice of God speaking to the silence. We then help the directee to listen to God in the silence. At times we simply become aware of God who is listening to both of us (directee and director), while we listen for God’s voice in the silence. Most of us err on the side of saying too much. A good old maxim is “If you cannot improve the silence then do not speak.” A major goal for the spiritual director is to discern when to speak and when to keep quiet.
1 Excerpted from The Awakening Institutes five week study on Contemplative Listening. For more details and a free syllabus feel free to email… firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit our website www.theawakeninginstitute.com
November 11th 2016
At Epworth UMC
7651 Johnson Street
To register for this free seminar titled
“Contemplative Prayer for Every Believer”
Simply email email@example.com
or call 321-298-8801 and leave your name,
phone number, and a note saying, “I will be there.”