In silence, we close ourselves off from noise, whether that be music, words, or any number of things. "In our modern world, silence is extremely rare. In fact, what we today call 'quiet' usually only amounts to 'a little less noise.' Many people have never experienced silence and do not even know that they do not know what it is. Our households and offices are filled with whirring, buzzing, murmuring, chattering, and whining of the multiple contraptions that are supposed to make life easier." (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, pg 163)
And somehow it seems these noises comfort us. Likewise, the absence of noise can leave us feeling uncomfortable and out of place. Have you ever had the experience of spending the night in a place that is much more quiet than what you're used to? The silence can keep you awake!
Silence is unsettling. We're plugged into our phones when we aren't in cars. We play video games or leave the TV on when we're home -- even if we're not watching it. Think what it says about the inward emptiness of our lives if we must always turn on the television or radio to make sure something is happening around us.
Addicted to Words
We are addicted to words. They are the most powerful weapon of manipulation that we possess. Because we are so afraid of what others think about and see in us, we use our words to correct and control others' understanding of our behavior. Have you ever tried to go a whole day without talking? Try it, and you will see how much you have come to rely on words and their power to control and manage your environment. We fear silence. For if we remain silent, who will take control? Yet, this tendency is so sad, for if we do not learn to be silent before God, we will never completely allow Him to take control of our lives. Also, it is only through silence and solitude that we learn to develop freedom from the ingrained habits that hinder our growth towards maturity in Christ.
We fear silence because it rips down the walls and forces us to face the realities of our aloneness and lack of control.
Think what it says about the inward emptiness of our lives if we must always turn on the television or radio to make sure something is happening around us.
There remains another way, however; the disciplines of solitude and silence. By acquiring and developing these disciplines, we can cultivate within ourselves a heart of solitude that destroys the chains of loneliness.
The Heart of Solitude
So how do we begin to develop the discipline in a world so full of noise and distraction? The heart of solitude is silence. "Without silence there is no solitude" (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, pg 98).
As sleep and rest are needed each day for the body, so silence and solitude are needed each day for the soul. These Disciplines have a way of airing out the mind and ironing out the wrinkles of the soul. Our prayer is that through this retreat, you will learn to come to the quiet every day to meet God in His Word and through contemplative prayer.