Posted by: alliehope | February 9, 2008

The Blessing of Silence

As wind and snow whipped through the concrete canyons of the city of Chicago on Wednesday, I sat in silence at the Chicago Temple, one of my favorite places to go for prayer and solitude. The nasty weather outside was appropriately penitential, given that it was Ash Wednesday, and it drew me inside. That physical withdrawal from the bustling city enabled me to spiritually draw away from the distractions that I rely on and get honest with myself and God about some of the issues I’m facing and sins that I need to repent of.

It really is true: silence is golden. As I sat in the hushed sanctuary, only the sounds of my own breathing and someone else murmuring prayers at various points could be heard. This gentle backdrop allowed me to realize the truth: that all the distractions I use (more accurately, hide behind) eventually place distance between myself and God, and weirdly, between me and my truest self. I’ve realized that since my partial day of silence, and I can’t help but wonder what I’ve missed in chasing the distractions instead of pursuing God’s heart.

Silence and solitude do that. I found myself thinking that I could probably have saved myself the foray into Wednesday’s nasty weather and just as easily stayed home for prayer, but the fact is, I couldn’t have. I knew that there were just too many temptations for me–the new episode of Oprah, my Facebook page, my favorite blogs, etc.,–distractions that would only derail the work I needed to do.

I now know that unplugging every once in a while (like once a day, at least) and taking that time to simply reflect on what’s going on in my life is a blessing. It reveals where I’ve grown, and where I still need to change. It also reveals that the growth process is precisely that, a process. I know that as I learn from the sins, mistakes, risks that haven’t worked, and risks that have, I will continue to grow. But that growth will only happen if I seek, even in the midst of all my activity, the blessing of silence.

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