Enjoy the Silence

Most summers we vacation at the beach with my entire family. That’s 23 people in one house. It’s loud, it’s chaotic, it’s unpredictable, it’s fun. I have so many good memories with my wife and my kids and with my family as a whole from these times. But as fun as it is, it can also be overwhelming; there are times when the noise is too much and when it feels like we’re all on top of one another. 

This is why one of my favorite times on vacation are my morning walks. I started this personal practice about 10 years ago. Each morning when I am on vacation I get up before the sun and spend time alone walking. Sometimes I listen to something, sometimes I talk to God, sometimes I contemplate things in my life, but often I just walk in silent prayer enjoying the world around me and listening for whispers from God’s Spirit. I simply walk and take in the wonder of the world God created and try to be present with Him and in the blessing I have to be on holiday.

The time is good and rich and healing. It is a salve to my soul. It makes my entire day better and makes me better for the entire day. In the silence and quiet I find the space and time I need to be able to enter the noise and chaos well. In the silence, I find a peace that allows me to enjoy the loud and contribute to the chaos. In the silence, I find the wisdom to love my wife by making sure that she is able to spend time in the quiet spaces and moments as well.

Jesus knew well the wisdom of and the need for silence and solitude. It was time that He needed as well. Jesus’ ministry was not easy. Crowds surrounded Him and pressed in on Him. Religious leaders sought to use Him for their ends and to affirm their power base. Radicals wanted Him to lead a revolution against Rome. The sick and hurting sought the healing of His hands. Jesus was immersed in noise and in need.

And so our very human savior did a very human thing. The Gospel of Luke tells us: But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16). In these simple words, we see the practice that allowed Jesus to be present in people’s pain, to have compassion for people’s needs, and to speak the words of life that His people needed. Jesus’ wisdom and strength derived not from the crowds that followed Him or the miracles by which He astounded them, but from the presence of His Father that He found in silence and solitude.

In silence He could hear the voice of His Father. In the lonely places He entered communion with the Holy Spirit who directed and filled His ministry. In the wilderness, the place of rejection and want, He was surrounded by the unconditional love of the Father and the Spirit and had His deepest needs met. Jesus lived beautifully and much of this beauty is rooted in the fact that Jesus lived quietly. Jesus invites us to live in this same beauty by rooting ourselves in the Divine Presence that can be found only in silence.

The Bible is full of lessons we can learn from silence. Luke 5:16 (referenced above) and Psalm 62:5 are just two scriptures that detail this wisdom. 

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