Silence Part 5: Wendy Bray considers the benefits of solitude in our quest for silence
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. 1 Kings 19
Marlene dietrich famously said, 'I want to be alone.' don't we all at times? Usually because the world (and the demands of the people within it) have just become too much. We think that running away and being by ourselves will provide the escape we need to sort things out.
Elijah certainly thought so, and, while God allowed him a bit of a pity party, fed him and let him sleep (all good for those who feel as burnt-out as elijah did), in the end God said, 'What are you doing here, elijah?' (v. 9). as far as God was concerned, escaping wasn't the answer. elijah had to face up to his enemies and his disappointments and 'go back the way he came' (v. 15).
The trouble with solitude and silence is that they often give us too much space and quiet in which to pick over the bones of our lives. Silence hones all our senses and we become more, not less, aware of all we hoped to escape from. Then we find that we will only truly 'escape' when we turn again, go back the way we came and face all that we were running from.
You may have watched the BBC2 programme The Big Silence. In it, a group of people, most with no claim to faith other than an interest to explore it in the context of silence, spent time on a silent retreat in Wales. They all struggled with silence to varying degrees and all went on a per- sonal journey, ultimately discovering that silence and solitude often force us to face up to the things from which we are trying to escape: they meet us in the solitude and shout in the silence.
We may find some answers in silence and solitude, but we will not always escape our toughest questions.
Taken from Day by Day with God, published by Bible Reading Fellowship, available to purchase from Eden
March 9th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Ian Matthews