Sometimes the scariest trip is the trip you make alone. Alone, in a room, no props, no safety net. Stripped of all your toys, your familiar things. Everything taken away and all that is left is you and God. That’s all there ever was anyway.
Everything we do, we buy, we read, we are, is an escape from God. We are constantly filling our heads with noise so we can’t hear the still small voice that is God.
I got a little freaked out on a retreat. I was afraid of the silence. When is the next part of the retreat? Where is it? What if I need something? Where’s my map? Where’s my schedule?
I want to catalogue the experience. I want to lay out words like breadcrumbs so I can find my way back. But what am I finding my way back to? Am I finding my way back to where I was before the retreat? Or am I leaving a trail so I can find my way back to God? Breadcrumb trails work both ways. That which you seek is seeking you, after all.
What is “silence” after all? Does it mean that I have to be quiet, or that I have to be in a quiet place? Does it count if I hear someone else talking, but I don’t? Does writing count as “noise”? Does going online count? Is it cheating if I write using an iPad?
Words are Jesus’ way in for me. I like words. I’ve used them for many years. And he is the Word made flesh after all. But sometimes words are hiding places.
Sometimes we fill up our prayer time with our own words and forget to leave space to hear the reply. Sometimes the “noise” is in our heads. Sometimes the silence is deafening, and we have to fill it with anything we can find. Sometimes that something is a book, or exercise, or music, or a lecture or a movie. Sometimes it seems that all we do is kill time, instead of live it. Sometimes we get so stuck in the map and the schedule we forget to be in the moment.
I left a ritual-heavy church, where moment to moment you knew what was going to happen because there was a script and a book. Everything was planned out. I didn’t realize that too was “noise”. It is only now that I realized that I never heard the still small voice in that service because there wasn’t space marked out for it.
God always answers. But are we always listening?