Practicing Silence

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This edition of our newsletter was written by Nicole Eanes. Nicole is staff member of Third Chance Ministries and works with God’s Storehouse and a number of other wonderful organizations in Danville.

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Within each of us there is a silence
—a silence as vast as a universe.
We are afraid of it…and we long for it.
When we experience that silence, we remember
who we are: creatures of the stars, created
from the cooling of this planet, created
from dust and gas, created
from the elements, created
from time and space…created
from silence.
In our present culture,
silence is something like an endangered species…
an endangered fundamental.
The experience of silence is now so rare
that we must cultivate it and treasure it.
This is especially true for shared silence.

In this poem by Gunilla Norris, I am reminded of the beauty and power of silence. I am reminded of the sacred space created when we take time out of our busy lives to come back to the basics — the beauty of breathing, feeling, and noticing which allows us to come back home to the present moment with each other and a little more settled into ourselves.

But, to be honest, I thought it was really weird when I first started praying with Grace & Main folks and I realized they practiced silence together.  A bunch of people in a room, sitting in silence together — it was weird for me. A quick glimpse into the mind of this anxious extrovert would sound something like: “what are they even doing? Are they thinking about something? Should I be thinking about something?” So, yeah, it’s pretty obvious I didn’t really understand the practice.

Slowly, after years of sitting with the awkwardness and unknown of the practice with my community, I began to find my rhythm. And I’m learning that this place of reconnection — this place where I can breathe and feel what’s really been happening in my life– can be found in the most ordinary moments. Sometimes I find healing in the silence shared between Roland and I as we ride together on Sunday afternoons to pick people up and drop them off again after prayers. Other times I find truth in the silence of a shared drink with Walter in his backyard after a long week. And sometimes I find the power of silence alone by the river.

I think it’s easy to avoid this space because it’s where deep, holy, and good work occurs. It requires bravery, honesty, and vulnerability to sit with yourself and others in this silent space. A space that gently shows you all of the limiting beliefs you’ve adopted, the lies of scarcity and fear, and echoes of doubt. But there is hope – if you just wait a little bit longer and get really still and silent, you’ll notice that God is using this space to show you something. Showing you that beneath all of the junk we pick up along the way there is a gentle, loved, and hopeful heart patiently waiting to be remembered. Inside of me, inside of you, inside of all of us — present all the time, but most easily found in quiet.

My hope is that you will find comfort in the fact that silence can be scary and awkward for a lot of us — not just you. I hope you find healing and truth and people to practice with. I hope you know that you’re not alone with your overthinking brain and uncertainty of how the practice goes. I hope you know that you are loved on the days you get it right and the days you don’t. And I hope you know that our community is always open to share some space with you.

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