Silence can be an uncomfortable experience. It might feel awkward in a group setting. It can indicate tension in a relationship. However, silence can also be healthy – even necessary.
Lent, a 40 day period of fasting and repentance, offers us an opportunity to practice silence and listening as a way to focus our attention on Christ and our neighbors.
Far too often we speak before we listen. In an age of nonstop information and hyper individualization, it is easy – and encouraged – to speak our minds.
Without noticing, we center ourselves, our own thoughts, needs and wants. The practice of silence disrupts the constant noise of our hearts and minds, and reorients us so that Jesus is rightfully centered. From this space we are postured to hear what God has to say and to respond to the love and guidance He gives.
Just as silence is an important practice in our relationship with God, it is also an important practice as community developers.
Rather than starting with the assumption that we have answers, solutions, and information to “fix” our neighborhood, we value listening to the community. In order to listen well, we need to put a pause on speaking and practice silence.
As we engage this spiritual discipline together this week, here are a few ideas for ways to do so:
- Dedicate a portion of your devotional time to be silent through centering prayer, which focuses on communion with God instead of conversation with God.
- Fast from social media (silence your “voice”)
- If you’re unable to sever ties with social media, fast from sharing your thoughts, images, etc. Instead, ask questions to hear from others.
- Invite a neighbor to lunch or coffee. Listen more than you speak. Make it a point to learn from him or her.
Listening is an important element in all healthy relationships. Take time to slow down this week and be quiet. Reorient to God. Reorient to loving your neighbor as yourself. Lastly, learn more about the principle of Listening to the Community from our Immerse course series.
Renew yourself and your love for God this week as you practice silence and listening!