Thinking aloud about silence may be contradictory, but at the end of the day that is what I am doing for a few minutes here at the laptop. For two hours this afternoon 4 women gathered in my front room for a reflective prayer meeting. This is a new venture as part of our circuit’s “Rhythm for Living” initiative, and today was only the second gathering.
Ably led by Elizabeth, we spent part of the meeting focussing on different small objects which she had brought with her. I chose a little snail shell (not the one pictured below, but similar). Taking time out to concentrate on something so small was both refreshing and instructive. It was so intricate, so beautiful, so mathematically astounding, so fragile… Yet, as I looked, it struck me that the shell’s chief purpose was to be strong, to protect some tiny life, long since over.
We don’t sit in silence for the whole two hours, but have short times of sharing between longer silent periods. We talk about silence… (another contradiction?) how it can centre us, how it can take us deep within ourselves, and deeper into God. A “good” silence is not a silence which is less than speech, but somehow a silence which is greater than words. As I think now about silence and about that delicate little shell, I wonder if sometimes we use words, noise, conversation, as a carapace, a protective covering to shield our vulnerable little inner lives? Silence may allow the inner self to breathe.
Ah well, I said it was late, and probably time to shut down for the night. I am only a beginner in discovering silence – do share your wisdom with me! And if you feel you want to experience more silence, think about coming along to the “Five-Day Community for Spiritual Formation” in Northern Ireland next year which will include several periods of silence each day – I’m very much looking forward to that.