Skip to main content

shhhhhh


Dean is away on a business trip. This time, I am feeling his absence more than usual.  Perhaps because I am not slammed with work like I was last year - I actually have some time to re-create.  The only problem is that there is no one to party with, except the cat.  Last night, I finished my reading by 8 pm and turned on the television.  American Idol was on.  Not having followed it ever, really, I decided to give it a watch.  Hmmm.  Having spent the day reading about the incredible, multi-dimensional, surprising, invitational drama in which God lavishes his love on creation, it seemed trite and inconsequential.  The popcorn was good, though.

Another reason that I feel the solitude weighing on me this week is because I have neglected to nurture it lately.  I recently watched The Big Silence, a BBC series about a Dominican father who asks 5 people to embrace silence in their lives and see what effect it has.  One of the challenges these busy, 21st century multi-taskers have to face is 8 days of silence at a Jesuit retreat centre. After the first day there, tempers are short, complaints run high, and grumpiness abounds - reactions that show how averse we are to facing ourselves, the lack of peace we have in our circumstances, and how we view the presence of God as either boring or instrusive. 

Silence is not easy.  There is no entertaining music, no movies, no pubs to go to with friends, no phones, no stressful work, nothing but our thoughts...and the presence of God.  Perhaps it is not surprising that all 5 of the volunteers, after a few days of silence, began to face some of their inner fears, wrestle with inner traumas, and acknowledge inner questions that they had been too busy to pay attention to before.  The followers of Jesus who first fled to the mountain caves in Egypt to live in solitude (starting the monastic movement) knew the value of getting away from distractions.  Too often, they mask our inner turmoil and cause us to substitute activity for real, lasting peace.

So this week, I am trying to embrace the silence more.  To make space in my studying, in my rising up and going to sleep, in my relaxation, and most of all, in my thoughts, turning them more often to God.  I want to recognize the places I need healing and wholeness, to face hidden fears and places of unrest, and to walk quietly with Jesus, letting him talk instead of pestering him with constant chatter and questions.  It is not an easy discipline, but it is food for one's soul.

"Be still and know that I am God."  - from Psalm 46:10

the photo:  a lone tree in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…

job hunting

I am on the hunt for a job. PhD in hand, I am a theologian for hire. The thing is, not a lot of places are hiring theologians these days, and if they are, they are usually looking for scholars with skills and experience outside my area of expertise. Today I found job opportunities for those knowledgeable in Religion, Race, and Colonialism, Philosophy and History of Religion, Islam and Society, Languages of Late Antiquity, Religion, Ethics, and Politics, and an ad for a Molecular Genetic Pathologist. Not one posting for a Dramatic Theologian with  a side order of Spirituality and a dash of Methodology.

I know, I know. My expectations are a bit unrealistic if I believe I will find an exact match for my particular skills. I know that job descriptions are wish lists to some extent, so no candidate is ever a perfect match. I also realize that one must adapt one's skill set according to the requirements of the job and be flexible. But there are so few jobs which come within ten or even…

lessons from a theological memoir and a television series about lawyers

It's a hot Wednesday afternoon, so let's talk about false binaries. Basically, a false binary or false dichotomy happens when a person's options are artificially limited to two choices, thereby excluding all other possibilities. Insisting on the limited choice of either A or B leaves no room for middle ground or another, more creative solution. In other words, a false binary assumes the rest of the alphabet (after A and B) does not exist.

Binary thinking is quite prevalent in our society. Either you are for me or against me. Either you are guilty or innocent. Either you are a Democrat or a Republican, conservative or liberal. Either you are a Christian or a pagan. Either you are all in or all out. Admittedly, it is convenient to see things as either black or white, but we live in a multi-coloured world and not everything fits neatly into two categories. This is why insisting there are only two choices when, in fact, other options exist, is labeled as a fallacy in logic an…