As many of you who have been reading my blog during Lent have apprehended, I’ve been pretty transfixed by the simple instructions on spirituality in Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. But the other day as I read through the final chapters of the book as I nursed my baby before sunrise, I realized that in the busy-ness of my mind and the eagerness of my heart, and despite the silence, I’d forgotten about listening.
I’d forgotten that what sent me on this deep spiritual quest during Lent was the increase in silence in my life since the birth of this baby, and the subsequent invitation to let God fill those silences. Since that realization, I’d picked up Foster’s book in an effort to be more intentional about my spirituality, and therefore, I’d been the one filling the silence with all sorts of things, from counting precious hours of sleep to pondering the tasks for the day ahead, and even my devotional study.
This is not another mommy guilt blog about how I should have been treasuring the moments with my infant suckling at my breast, but rather a mere realization that I hadn’t been faithful enough in those moments to allow God’s voice to be louder than my own. In a previous post, I shared Foster’s words about how our fears about entering into the silence often reflect a distrust of God, and for me it’s no different. I recently read this post from the author of the blog, Becoming Minimalist, in which he ponders our collective societal aversion to silence. Joshua Becker writes, “While anyone can experience silence at any time by finding a quiet place to sit for an extended period of time, I have found solitude does not occur naturally in our noise-centered world. It must be intentionally pursued by each of us.”
In my own post on “The God of Silence,” I talk about the value for me in practicing centering prayer and reframing the experience of silence not as one of absence but of presence.
But I still struggle.
I still doubt over and over whether God will truly meet me in the silence.
But what if God was already there? What if the essence of God was that God goes before us, is ever-present, always waiting on us when we call?
Perhaps that was why some of the words from the liturgy this weekend at church seemed to jump off the page. We prayed together, confessing, “Fear and worry hold us back. We confess that we try our very best, carrying the weight ourselves. We gladly hand some of our worry and fear to you today.”
What a simple action, I thought, handing our worry and fear over to God, and yet we cling to these things as if we love them more than peace, hope, and love.
And as we took communion, we spoke, “When we come to this table together, we trust God will satisfy our hunger and our thirst. Jesus shared this meal with a hungry crowd long ago and he shares it with us today. Let us bring our hunger and our thirst to the table of the one who called himself the Living Bread.”
Fear and worry, hunger and thirst, these are the little that Jesus asks of us, and yet we cling to our noisy lives with such cowardice. I don’t know about you, but the thought that our mighty God wants our heartache, and that God is so pure and humble and innocent and present, moves me. The least I could do is listen, right?
And so I’m returning to that simple message on this foggy Tuesday morning. I’m returning to the silence with my ears attuned to the presence of God. I’m bringing my fear and my worry, my hunger and my thirst, and I’m trusting that God is already there, listening, as I listen for him.