Revisiting GracePlaces: Lent 1-Silence

I have felt overwhelmed with the number and variety of Lenten resources that have come my way this year through many channels, each one seemingly more inviting than the next. I needed to take a moment to stop, to breathe, the listen to what the Spirit was inviting me to let go of or add on as a way of walking toward Easter in a more focused way. As I mused over the possibilities, I kept coming back to older practices in which I have encountered Grace in the past, but have let slide—some out of inertia, some out of a shinier new offer, some out of forgetfulness. So, I am being led this Lent to go back to places where I once encountered the Holy, where I found that in steady practice that I could see Christ more clearly, love Christ more dearly and follow Christ more nearly in earlier legs of the journey. Each week I will re-inhabit one, possibly continue it into the following week, and see what the Spirit, my travel-companion, helps me to see about myself as well as the Christ I follow.

I was asked to review a book on silence, and it prompted me to remember how silence has opened my senses, body and spirit to Holy Presence. There was a time when I led worship twice a day, and the most sacred time was the ten minute silence we observed in each gathering, as a community to sit, to ponder, to pray, to listen. Surely, with just my own schedule and disposition to manage, I can find a way for that kind of silence! Yet, I am finding it challenging. There is an Agenda that rises, somehow almost unbidden, every morning–what does my body need? what does my partner need? what does the house need? what does my neighbor need? what do those who, I am given to love need? But I see that my soul needs some silence, a silence in which I am not busily multi-tasking in my mind about ways to get all the needs of the Agenda met. I need a clear silence in which to be still, one in which the cadence of my breathing becomes more natural and relaxed. And I need an uncluttered silence in which to listen for the “sound of sheer Silence” which is the Holy One.

The first challenge is to get to my sacred corner and plop my body down there, with a timer if necessary. More difficult, though, is to get my mind to reject its addiction to the adrenaline of the “monkey mind” and to be still, be still, be still. To let the Breath of God breathe on me and in me is to enter in that GracePlace where I can allow my long-time knowing of the Graceful Silence fill and surround me. My experience tells me that out of that silence, when I can become “lost in wonder, love and praise,” I often am directed to the next right action of mercy and justice for God’s sake in the world.

I am practicing silence each day this first week of Lent.

About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who writes on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture, and what is happening in the world--hers, her neighborhood, the Church and the world. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.


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