Dark Silence and Solitude

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Silence Part 12: Facing life's darker moments in the practice of silence

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice... My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psam 130

 

 

 

We would be wrong to believe that silent and solitary places will always lead us to clarity and peace. Often they are filled with darkness and despair. Anthony, the desert Father I mentioned earlier, said, 'Who sits in solitude and quiet hath escaped from three wars, hearing, speaking, seeing. yet against one thing shall he continually battle, that is, his own heart.' Just as the quiet, lonely place draws our attention to what really matters, it can draw our attention to the deepest and darkest thoughts of our hearts, and God can seem very far away indeed.

The first time I went on silent retreat for a week, I had high expectations, but how I struggled! Not with the silence but with the apparent absence of the God I thought had invited me to spend time with him. Where was he? Why was my mind filled with nothing that was good and true? Why did the rocky outcrops on my daily walk leer at me with menace? Why so much darkness? I prayed, I raged, I cried; but God remained apparently absent.

On the last morning, tired and defeated, I decided, rather cynically, to join in the service of Communion. There, in a quietly staggering but very specific way, God spoke. Like the watchmen, I had needed to wait through the night until the morning. I can't tell you why, but the significance of that day was life-changing. Solitude and silence were a place of testing and darkness. Just when I was ready to give up, hanging on by a tearful thread of trust, God made himself known in a more powerful way than I would have known through sunshine and peace.

I discovered later that my retreat experience is common. I just wish someone had told me that before I arrived!

Taken from Day by Day with God, published by Bible Reading Fellowship, available to purchase from Eden.

20th March

March 20th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Bible Reading Fellowship

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