Saturday, May 16, 2015

Finding what's between the sound......

I ran to shut the window but the sudden rainstorm slanted in the other direction.  Instead I just stood, widow open, and breathed in the freshness in the Autumn rain, felt the peace of that moment and lingered.  I thought about how my life is actually less complicated now than it's been for years, yet how our humanity still finds the busy in it all.  So often we just need to stop like I did right then and breathe....

I've been practicing the discipline of silence lately because my small group is reading a book that gave us that assignment, five minutes at a time.  It's been refreshingly good.  I set the timer on my phone to get me started, because who really can't spare just five minutes in a day?  Especially if you know that an alarm will sound that will keep you from going over.

The first time I settled on the floor of my living room to multi-task and rest my sore shoulders (a sign that I needed it right there!) while our busy household was empty, and quieted the chatter of my mind.  It took a bit for my ever-busy brain to stop firing, but I eventually began to listen.  I heard the songs of the birds outside, something that I love but hadn't really done for some time, and I began to commune, really commune, with the God that made them.  Sometimes my form of communtion smacks of talking AT Him, yet any understanding of the word 'relationship' tells me that that's not what He has in mind.

Five minutes was longer than I thought it would be, but once silence was discovered it wasn't long enough.  I set the timer again and stood up after far more refreshed and at peace for the rest of my day.

I'm still using the timer once a day to start a habit, but found that I've been allowing myself other times of focus and peace now too---and I'm still getting done everything that I need to each day.  Personally, I know that when I'm stressed I actually waste time with unclear thought patterns even if my body appears active.  Taking moments of silence that connect me to my Creator is far better all around.

Photo: Heidi Cook
Practicing meditative silence is nothing new or exclusive to Chritianity.  I used to wait at my children's school every day in India, bringing my oldest since her classes were in the afternoon, but waiting 30 minutes or so for the younger ones to finish their morning lessons.  During that time I'd sit in the waiting room with other mums and enjoy their chatter.  I often noted because of their religion that there would frequently be someone oooh'ing and aaah'ing about how she'd been enjoying practicing meditation.  While I didn't believe in the same sort of meditation that they did--my thoughts organically go to the Creator God, while their goal was to totally empty themselves leaving them open to whatever--it was clearly an experience that brought them peace just in the silence of it and is something that their belief system has been practicing for thousands of years.

There are many references in Scripture about meditating on our Lord and it's long been hailed as an essencial spiritual discipline.  Yet it's one that we mistakenly often strive after rather than letting the communion bring us the restoration intended.

"I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.  Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings."   Psalms 63:6-7

My husband's parents are some of the most proactive people that I know.  They've been extremely disciplined all their lives handling work, family, and ministry all at once.  As they've gotten older, their lives have simplified, but their patterns of life remain.  One thing you can count on when visiting them are tea/coffee breaks. Morning Tea and Afternoon Tea are daily rituals besides meals; times when work stops, feet are put up and conversation shared.  Their very productive rhythm of life has always included rest and time spent alone with Him.

When did we start thinking that we were more productive without it?

I live on a coastline of incredible natural beauty.  One of the things I enjoy besides the view are benches that dot the paths by the sea.  It's long been a holiday spot and the benches say things like, "In memory of (insert name) who loved this spot," or things like that.  These locations are places that people used to like to sit, but while those benches are used they're not as enjoyed as you'd think.  And that makes me think that even though there were far fewer people in the area back then, that they used to stop and just sit more.

Photo: Beth Waterman
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matt. 11:28-29  Rest is offered, it's there for the taking, but first we must come.  After all we were created to need rest; body, mind and spirit and the denying of that isn't long-term healthy for any of us.  God the Father Himself rested on the Seventh Day and He told us to do the same.  

Our times of silent rest help us to focus on Him and we need to come to Him this way often.

"God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you."  ~Augustine

His Presence, His Peace, His Love; all there all the time but sometimes our love of the busy distracts us from the best.  Let's take that time to dial down, to find Him instead of just talking at Him, and discover the differenct that that simple practice makes.

"A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!"  Psalm 84:10

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