Thanks to reader Linda who directed me to David Kuo’s blog post, “Drawing Nearer to God,” in which he writes:
What strikes me over and over again about holy people is the simple persistence in doing little things – being quiet, praying, listening, meditating. I tend to think that I have to do big things to draw me nearer to God. I wonder sometimes if that is because I am afraid what God will do with me in the little things.
Linda forwarded me a reader response that really made me think, by “Thinker” (get it?):
I pulled out “Sabbath” after reading this post. I have loved that book and you captured one of our great cultural problems. How can we be faithful without the silence? We are so afraid of inactivity, of boredom, of not “doing” enough, but we all long for the silence in one way or another.
Every spring I take 40 girls on a retreat and the first thing that happens is – the team (made up of other girls) takes the cell phones. We put them in a bag in the trunk of a car and only I carry a phone after that. If there is an emergency – the parents have my number. I have received 3 calls in three years – non were emergencies. The girls then go through 4 days of silence from the world. they play and laugh and hear stories and there is great intent to it all.
Each day is structured – with silence and alone time built in. At the end of the retreat – after we’re home – we give the cell phones back. A few eagerly turn them on to hear what’s been going on. Some just stick them in their bags and go home. But one girl last year – asked me to keep it until “monday”. ” I need more time before I come back.
During Lent I invited my students to turn off everything electronic one day each week of Lent. They looked horrified and one replied that she would rather give up chocolate. St. Teresa of Avila is very important to the religious order for which I teach. I look at her life and she would have had the hardest time giving up the cell phone had there been such a thing. It took her 40 years to discover the silence.
Julian – awe – now there was a woman who grasped it and held it – an anchorite – embracing it so completely. Yet she spoke and wrote about the minutes she was close to God – a near death experience at the age of 26. It was so important she had to spend the rest of her life making sense of it.
?Our culture demands that we move and act and take in so much stimulus there is no room for the still small voice – we couldn’t hear it over the IPOD buds. But perhaps the only thing that renews us is the silence. There’s a conversion we could all use.