|Friends in Christ
Introduction to Silence
(Also available in Portuguese translation)
The use of silence or solitude as a doorway to the Divine has a long history in the Christian tradition. Jesus often went away to pray alone. (Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:23; Luke 5:16). Early Christian monastics went to live alone in the desert in the fourth century AD to find and love God. This type of spirituality remains important in the Orthodox Christian Church under the term Hesychasm (quietness, rest, inner peace). It continues in the Catholic monastic tradition under the term "contemplation". Since the seventeenth century, Quakers have often used "silent worship" as a part of their corporate worship. Quakers have more accurately termed this practice "expectant waiting".
Silent expectant waiting is not a method, but is an attitude. It is not something we do and control. It is a posture or attitude of openness, when we let God reach us. It is letting go to allow God to shape our relationship with God. It is being in complete receptiveness and anticipation.
A secular example of this attitude occurs in the theater when the lights dim and the play is about to commence. Everyone quiets and sit in excited anticipation of the drama to come. Thoughts and conversations are suspended as everyone waits. Those moments are a close example of silent expectant waiting.
To try this process, sit comfortably and let go of your mental thinking. Thoughts will come, but do not hold them or think about them. Thoughts will go. Some people like to become aware of their breathing - in and out. Others simply sink into a rest. An essential part of this attitude is the expectation that God is present and loves you. You are not thinking about God. You are opening to experience God. It is not an intellectual process, but an encounter.
At times, you will sense no response. You may feel an emptiness, darkness or frustration. Do not despair, this is part of the process of becoming empty for God. Persevere. At other times, a word or thought or image or prayer will arise from deep within. It is appropriate to share this vocally, if you are sitting with others. This is something to be savored.
May God be with you.
©1999 Friends in Christ Inc.
Friends in Christ, Inc.