“We miss the meaning to be found in our lives because we ignore a principle that is as old as Creation itself: the intentional back and forth rhythm of work and rest.” So says Tracy Balzer in Thin Places,.
Silence and solitude, these are themes of this chapter, and they are themes that more of us need. I posted a little exhortation recently called “breathe” and both silence and solitude lead us to the same: we need to breathe, deeply, intentionally, and routinely.
God ordained a sabbath rest — sabbath, dear friends, is about rest. We need both engagement and withdrawal. Americans need this; Westerners need this. I need this.
Ancient Christians longed for the desert: “Go into your cell and your cell will teach you everything.” While the Celts couldn’t go to the desert, they founded hermitages in desolate places. Small huts on wind-swept places with no light other than the sun; coldness; green. These are the words that come to mind. Alone. That’s the point — alone to speak to and hear from God. She illustrates with the “story” of St. Kevin of Glendalough (498-618).
Solitude is the creation of open space so we can be found by God, where the false self (Nouwen) can die and we can be who we really are. Ps 46:10: Be still and know that I am God.
She suggests silence and retreats and real ideas — like prayer cottages built by churches on its property. She reminds us of the distinction between information and formation. She recommends lectio divina Bible reading.
Do we know the sounds of silence?
Advance notice: our next two books will be…
Marko Ivan Rupnik, In the Fire of the Burning Bush
Telford Work, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg