Silence and solitude
Faith, Mental Health

Silence and Solitude: becoming quiet in a noisy world

4 min read

I am currently doing a little experiment in silence and solitude. Why? You might wonder. Let me explain.

Lockdown – a blessing in disguise?

Do you remember last year March when we entered the first lockdown? I am sure you do. The whole situation was terrifying, people overused the word “unprecedented” and panic-bought toilet paper. Besides all this, there was also this sense of relief, of taking a deep breath. Many people welcomed having their schedules cleared, more time to spend with family, and capacity to think, reflect and to re-order cupboards and priorities.

Most people are probably in agreement about our collective need to slow down, to take some deep breaths and to spend more quality time with our children and spouses, However, instead of utilising lockdown for exactly that most of us just developed a more intimate relationship with our phones, TVs and tablets.

Forbes reports that “the previous normal was just over three hours, but now (…) average daily time spent consuming content is six hours and 59 minutes, which includes phone, TV, and other forms of digital media.”

I don’t want to escape my life but live it

I am not here to bash the internet. (Heck, this blog is on the internet.) Neither am I saying that Netflix or social media is completely evil. (Only a little bit evil).

But I just started to wonder – what would happen if I spent less time escaping and consuming and more time living, feeling, listening and creating?

What would happen if we spent less time escaping and consuming and more time living, feeling, listening and creating? Share on X

Last Wednesday was the first day of lent. Many people use this season to abstain from something – alcohol, chocolate, TV or social media. Fasting certain goods or habits is a great way to check in with ourselves, making sure we are in control and not controlled by other things.

However, I believe that the heart of lent is not actually to become better at self-discipline. I wrote a post about lent last year where I encouraged to ask the question: “What practices, what disciplines, what sacrifices might help me to draw closer to Jesus over the next 40 days?” (Or depending on when you read this – the next 32 or 29 days – there is no magic to starting on Ash Wednesday.)

What do you want to make room for?

I still love this question. Last week in our staff service the preacher said that lent is about making room. Room to breathe, to stop from our busy-ness, to re-center ourselves and look to Jesus.

As lockdown already feels a lot like fasting from many things, I decided not to abstain from anything else. Of course – I could have chosen to fast zoom or Instagram. Instead I decided to be intentional about making room for silence and solitude.

One week in: what I learned so far about silence and solitude

So for the last week I spend 15 minutes each morning in silence. With a hot cup of tea in my hands, I closed my eyes and listened to my breathing. Got distracted. Focused on the marvellous fact that I am alive. Enjoyed to just be in God’s presence.

Each evening I took another 5 to 10 minutes to become quiet. To reflect on the day, to listen to God’s voice.

It has been challenging and also kind of unspectacular. I have not heard a booming voice or seen a vision. But I cannot remember the last time I felt so enveloped in God’s love.

Tuning out all distractions, ceasing all doing and just existing is completely counter-cultural. It isn’t productive. I am not “crushing it”. I am just being a human. Becoming aware of my thoughts and feelings. And then coming to God in my human-ness, discovering that he welcomes me. It’s been hard, but also wonderful.

Join me in getting quiet

I know that lent has already started, but this does not need to be a lent thing. It can just be a week or month long experiment you do with me. If you want some more intelligent thoughts and Biblical background of the reasons for silence and solitude I would highly recommend listen to this teaching series by Bridgetown church.

And if you give it a go or are already a seasoned practitioner of silence and solitude please do let me know. I would love to hear your perspective and thoughts.

Okay, now I will go and be quiet for a bit.

Silence and Solitude: becoming silent in a noisy world
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  • Reply Loz 25 February 2021 at 10:17 am

    Loving this Britta! I’m reading a book about decrease and silence is a must for me. Hard to get though in a small house with three kids and Matt working from home but I steal away to my room and try all the same. For me silence keeps me grounded. And my favourite times of silence are in the car on my own. I made a conscious choice a while back to not listen to the radio or Coldplay on cd (one of my kids rammed a second cd in so now neither one will come out) driving in silence is amazing! I love it. I process a lot! X

  • Reply arricahess 25 February 2021 at 1:51 pm

    I’m reading through Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines. I am on the section about silence and solitude so this is timely for me. I love this challenge. Thank you for sharing.

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