Now that was a great weekend! But don't worry, editors concerned that I may "scoop" your publication, this is just a personal reflection. I'll be filing a real news story - later this week - on Florida's United Methodist Men and their retreat ministry with The Florida Conference Connection News Service.
My role - which will not be part of that news story - was to be one of two keynote speakers. I actually spoke five times, which is (those of you who do public speaking already know this) extremely exhausting. But I had a great experience, made good contacts with some very cool people, and met men representing 26 Methodist congregations from around the state.
But, my MMM (Monday Morning Meditation) for today is less concerned with talking than with silence. One of the most important aspects of retreat, for me, is the opportunity for silence.
Silence is something a lot of us go to a great deal of trouble to avoid in this frenetic 21st-Century world. Some folk can't even drive from their house to the grocery store without listening to the radio. I know people who constantly run the television in their home, even when they're not necessarily viewing a particular program. Then - and I ranted about this in a recent post - it has become next to impossible to even pump gas without being assaulted by loud music and focused commercial messages.
However, this weekend I came close to changing out one of the "Ten Life-Charged Words" in my upcoming book, and adding the idea of life-charged SILENCE.
"Why," I asked the crowd of assembled men, do we have such a hard time with the idea of silence?"
Well I'll give them credit. They all had some great answers at the ready (many of the answers overlap):
- When it is silent we have to listen
- When we listen we necessarily become more accountable
- We're afraid of what we may learn about ourselves
- We're not in control anymore when it is that quiet
- We like to control the messages around us
- I'm not sure what I should be doing when it gets quiet
- I don't know what to do with silence/reflection
- I'd just as soon not be that aware of my thoughts
My own personal journey of silence worked itself out in the context of a long walk by the lake that ended up at the labyrinth - one of the most beautiful and extensive that I've ever seen. "Be still," the words of Psalm 46 invite, "and know that I am God...."
Silence is the first step toward meditation. Silence, and then meditation, helps prepare us to listen. Meditation brings us into the presence of God. Silence removes many of the distractions that keep us from an awareness of ourselves and of the presence of God.
God is patient. But God is not (seldom) intrusive.
Today, why not begin the trajectory of this new week in silence, and in anticipation of the company of God.
Peace - in every way - DEREK