Thursday, November 23

Silence: More Than Words

by Scott Lyons

I am sitting across from my spiritual mentor. Today we are meeting to talk about silence, to discuss the importance given to the discipline within the church throughout its history.

"There is irony here," I say, "Mystics and monks who go on and on about silence. It reminds me of Polonius, whom Shakespeare could only quiet by having Hamlet run him through with his rapier, speaking the words, 'Brevity is the soul of wit.' "

"There is no irony," [my mentor] quietly assures me, smiling. And so we begin.

"Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught. . . . 'There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her'" (Luke 10:39, 42).

I don't remember ever hearing a sermon about practicing quietness, about seeking out silence and shunning conversation. Our culture doesn't value it. And though I want to criticize my world for all its noise, its busyness, and its foolishness--I am Martha. And silence, my sister, is a stranger to me.

There is value in saying nothing, in stepping away from disagreements, in excusing ourselves from conversations. And to do so not because we wish to avoid conflict or because we pessimistically believe it will change nothing, but because we recognize in ourselves the wickedness of needing to be right, of wanting to be thought right, to be heard. So we become silent because we know that we lose something when we speak.

But I am a lover of words. If I stop speaking, I will be naked on this stage-bearing witness against myself before God. So I keep speaking, wildly hoping that what I want to be heard will be heard.

How do we walk away from words? I know it's not easy. But to be silent is to be known. And in the quietness there is forgiveness (because there is confession), peace, and strength. I am not asking anyone to become a Trappist monk. What I am asking is for us to try silence-just for a short period of time. Turn off your radio and head to the park near where you work. Sit quietly and eat your lunch. Turn off the TV one evening each week. Pray. Read. Pray some more. Learn to be familiar with the silence. Then, in time, if you are snapped at as you walk through the door, or if a barrage of little ones immediately crowd about you and pull at you, you will discover greater rest in your heart. The discipline of silence does not give us a place of mental detachment, but a soft blanket that we gently, caringly spread under our families.

I am tired of hiding behind the noise and the words, expecting to find rest where I have never found it before, tired of trying to avoid hearing a quiet voice say, "Where are you?"

Noise is just another fig leaf.

So I shut my mouth and let my pretense drop, shattering around me. I need to be here, at this moment, in silence. I need to be able to hear again. I am desperate for rest; I am desperate to be known.

"I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault." So come and sit with me. Sit with our sister, Mary. And let us listen to this Jesus.

Sunday, November 12


I just finished reading an article in relevant magazine that really spoke to me and I know will speak to you too! It was about looking to the blessings in the now instead of ignoring them and looking for the blessings in the future.

Right now is an amazing time of blessing in my life. God has been speaking to me and directing me and leading me, but the blessing has come through following his directions. Imagine looking at a map book for directions, and not going where it says!! It makes no sense! Following his lead, though, hasn’t been easy. He has asked of me things that I have not wanted to do and I have asked things of him that he has declined to give. So there are times when I get discouraged. I get down, because I think to myself that I will never see the end of this, that I will always be in the dark waiting for the light, or more fittingly, that the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be moving at the same rate I am!
The article in relevant talked about a guy and his sons who every week played XBOX together from 2 till 4 on Saturdays and Sundays. They really enjoyed the time together, but he found that his sons were SO HANGING OUT for Saturday that the rest of the week was just an obstacle to get past so they could get to the weekend.

This is how I feel sometimes. There are things, amazing, and wonderful blessings, in my life that God has told me to wait for. So do I look at the time I have now, the waiting period, and use it to it's full? No I pine for the blessing. I WANT IT NOW; I don’t want to have to wait. The waiting period is hard! It's an obstacle that's hindering me from the blessing.

I DONT WANT TO PINE FOR THE BLESSING!! I want to be able to enjoy what I have now! I want to be able to look at what I DO have and not think to myself "One day this will be better" but I want to think to myself "how blessed I am be have what God has given! Surely it can’t get any better than this for this point in my life!"

I choose to look at what God has given me now, and grow it. I choose not to look at what I want and complain that I don’t have it but rather to look at what I have and thank God for it! Develop it and to nurture it.

Because God has given it and I am blessed.