Paradoxically, one of the disciplines most needful for the community of faith is the discipline of silence — and Darryl Tippens’ 10th chp in Pilgrim Heart addresses that topic.
“The pilgrim heart,” Tippens opens up this chapter, “is an attentive heart, one skilled at screening out the endless chatter, the distracting ambient ‘white noise’ of daily existence” (123). But many find silence frightening: “Conflicted hosts, we shun the guest [God] as we call out to him” (124).
Another thought running through this chp is that “Listening demands much of us.” Why? Because it requires that we listen, that we drop ourselves to become attentive on the other and the Other. WE surrender to the other to listen attentively.
I like his quotation from Kierkegaard: “the true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person praying continues to pray until he is the one who hears, who hears what God wills” (126).
It is time alone listening to God that makes each of us capable of listening to others.
But it is hard: “Technologically advanced, we are primitives when it comes to soul-care” (129).
What can we do? We can unplug from music and sound machines; create time boundaries; try living one hour per week without words; use short, once-sentence prayers. I like his suggestion of “little solitudes” — like a morning cup of coffee with no newspaper, no computer, no TV, no radio — just you in silence with God, listening.