Monday, February 20

Silence and Solitude

It's unusual for a homeschooling mother to say that she makes regular space for a discipline such as silence and solitude.  For all of us there are pressing needs to attend to, plans to outline, materials to find, children to guide, meals, field trips... The list could go on and on, unless we are intentional about pressing pause.

We think a lot about who we are teaching to but many days we lose sight of who we are teaching from.  We teach out of who we are and, for me, that means I teach from that point where the gospel transforms me with grace and truth.  If I try to teach from any other place, I grow weary.

And so I take a day every couple of months to practice silence and solitude.  To talk with the God who gives me life and breath, creativity and skills. To listen to what the next steps may be.  To pray with intention and thought.  To read and consider the passages that affect me.  To come to new understanding and take steps toward transformation.

The hardest part about taking a day for silence and solitude is first deciding to do it.  Some mornings as I rise early amidst sleeping boys to gather my materials I question the necessity of my plans.  There are other things I could and should be doing.  Indeed, there will always be.  And I believe that God works even while I daily accomplish, but having your best friend beside you all the time is different than looking her in the face and really hearing her.  And so, I push myself to go so that I can hear.

There is a retreat center near my home that allows me to rent a dorm room for a day.  This takes me away from all distraction.  Though I nearly convince myself that I could accomplish much devotional writing, my laptop stays home.  I cannot have that pull to go any other place. I make myself exist with little.

I begin the day in my journal, longhanding a list of what’s on my mind and heart: struggles friends are having, uncertainties about what’s next for me, unanswerable questions I’ve been asked, temptations and tendencies I can’t seem to move past.  Doing this allows me to move beyond the circumstantial in order to get to a place where I can see and sense God’s presence.  I then present my list to God in prayer and ask, “What to YOU want to do today?  Which of these will we address, or will you take me somewhere else?” 

Other days I simply ask, "What do you want me to hear?"  And throughout the day when I'm unsure where to go next, I just go back to that question. 

I bring materials that make me think more deeply about the truth of God; books with questions that pull me out of myself (a raging introvert) and more toward the person he's creating me to be.  

For a portion of the day I dive deep into a particular scripture:  the whole book of Titus, reading John for the sense of the greater story, or looking up verses about perseverance.

Incorporating the physical connects the mind to the soul and opens up new ways of seeing: walking and whispering aloud nearly always provides clarity.  Adhering photos to an album gives room to think and pray for the people within them.  Using my camera to observe the details of creation gives practice in counting gifts.  Practicing physical postures of prayer takes my thoughts to their deepest importance.

When I'm hungry I eat, but only after I ask, "Is this really what I need, or am I escaping from something hard?"  When I'm tired of sitting, I walk.  When I'm tired of walking, I rest.  And at the end of the day I try to determine: 1. What did I hear? and 2. How will this time away affect my time back with people?  Our time with God should, to some extent, change us and benefit those we love and serve.  I am refreshed and challenged.  I shouldn't go home and assume everyone else feels the same.

When choosing books to bring, I select only those that I'm currently working through.  I often begin one a few weeks ahead so that I can be in the thick of it, struggling to appropriately place it in my life. I believe in working from where God already has you.

I encourage you to give it a try.  Once a year, twice a year, once a season.  Make yourself available and see what becomes of you.

These are some of the titles I easily suggest.

No comments:

Post a Comment

For two years I have had comments turned off as a discipline to write for myself. I'm seeing the other side. I just ask that you comment with grace.