Last Sunday’s lectionary reading from the Jewish Scriptures was the story of Samuel’s call. Part of the narrative is that the Lord’s voice had not been heard in recent years at Shiloh, the national shrine of Israel. There had been silence.
Some people long for silence whilst others fear it.
In just over a week’s time I’ll be attending the Retreat Association conference
in Derbyshire which this year has the intriguing title: ‘Sounding the Silence’.
I think I personally have a love/hate relationship with silence.
On the negative side I struggle a little with short periods of silence. I never seem to settle down. Perhaps I need
On the positive side, I love silent weekend retreats. After the welcome and first shared meal on
Friday evening the group goes into a corporate silence until after communion on
Sunday morning. As I journey through these
few days I actually feel myself ‘calming’ down and becoming more focussed, and
I hope, open to God. The lack of a need
to talk, even in company with others, I find surprisingly liberating. Come Sunday lunchtime and I’m slightly
reluctant to leave the silence – but at least I know I take the fresh
perspectives I’ve found within it away with me.
One of my favourite ‘modern’ hymns, by Christopher Idle, puts it like this:
Lord, you sometimes speak in silence
through our loud and noisy day.
We can know and trust you better
when we quietly wait and pray.
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