Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Silence

This post will sort of connect with Rachelle's post on spiritual hunger. Sort of.

One of our priests, Gena, is in charge of our church's center for spirituality. Essentially, the center is a group of contemplatives within our larger church family. Many of them make frequent silent retreats and they have weekly contemplative prayer sessions (they meet and spend 30 minutes in silence and then a few minutes in discussion). Yesterday, Gena unveiled a new "Comtemplative Eucharist" that followed approved liturgies of our church but left lots of room for silent contemplation and meditation in between the readings, prayers, and other parts of the liturgy.

Having grown up rabidly protestant, things like meditation, contemplation, etc. were not exactly the bread and butter of my spiritual formation. However, having become more familiar with meditative practices, be it for long periods of silent contemplation (as in the Eucharist yesterday) or for brief trips to our quiet garden or prayer labryinth at the church, have helped me realize how essential these practices are for us as humans (be we religious or non-religious).

We need to unplug. Mind you, as I said in the comments of Rachelle's post, not for long periods of time. I'm not the type of Christian that believes the world is evil, so it's best to disengage from it. But, I think a measured temporary detachment can actually teach us the beauty of the good earth and people around us! We need to not watch tv, not tweet, not read blogs or online newspapers or books for that matter, and embrace silence. I think this is why things like yoga are becoming increasingly popular. Besides the fact that it is wonderful work-out, it is a great way to disengage for a few moments.

Silence, though, is scary. This is what I battle with anytime I engage in contemplative prayer or meditation. Why is it scary? I'm not sure. I think maybe we live in a culture that constantly demands answers and explanation, and silence forces us to engage with that deep part of ourselves where, even in an atheistic world view, mystery still lives. And mystery in a world that demands an answer for everything is scary.

1 comment:

Rachelle said...

I agree completely. Meditation is powerful because you truly see yourself, and for some people this is just too much. However, if you make a concerted effort to meditate (different for everyone) daily, the level of comfort you have with yourself is visible in every facet of your life.

 
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