It’s a noisy time of year, isn’t it? Certainly, there are a lot of beautiful sounds of the season in the carols, bells and laughter. However, once we layer on the multitude of seasonal movies and television programs, Santas ho-ho-hoing, the revelry of parties, and a plethora of endless retail commercials and radio ads, we have quite a cacophony. In the midst of it all, I sometimes find it hard to hear my own heart beat.
I’ve found my mind drifting toward thoughts of silence – longing for it, really. While I love all the beautiful sounds of the season, I am a person that needs to re-center in silence. It’s precisely at this time every year that I’m struck by what a “wordy” society we are and how we do everything we can to fill the silence with something, anything, that takes the focus off the discomfort of the void. After all, in our silence we are alone with our thoughts – thoughts which many of us don’t even want to entertain, let alone deal with. This is a shame, because through the years and a lot of work with God, I’ve found that it’s within the silence that He dwells.
I recently received a small book by Henri J. M. Nouwen entitled The Way of the Heart that is so profound. He devotes an entire section of the book to the discipline of silence and he speaks about it being the inner dwelling of the Holy Spirit:
Silence guards the inner heat of religious emotions. This inner heat is the life of the Holy Spirit within us. Thus, silence is a discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive.
He goes on to offer a quote from St. Diadochus of Photiki to illustrate:
When the door of the steambath is continually left open, the heat inside rapidly escapes through it; like-wise the soul, in its desire to say many things, dissipates its remembrance of God through the door of speech, even though everything it says may be good.
I have the mental image of myself never slowing down to be silent, but speaking forth “good things” in great number; all the while, there is a sweet and fragrant wisp of smoke escaping through my mouth, the remains of an inner fire untended. If I never stop to be silent, basking in the warmth of the fire and stoking it to maintain its flame, what good are my words to the world?
Is it not through the “still small voice” that God speaks most loudly? His plea for us to “be still and know that He is God” is for our benefit, because in the stillness and silence, away from distractions and the sound of our own voice, we can hear Him best. And, in this season, we are reminded that it was in the silence of night, away from the hustle and bustle of people and commerce, that His human voice was first heard in the cry of a baby boy.
In the midst of our “jingle bell” world, we can – we must – live “silent night” lives, keeping our inner flames burning bright for ourselves and those that will be drawn to its warmth.
Great post! He’s been talking to me about this lately and I think He just illustrated His point to me again! I need to make more time in silence alone with Him!
It's counter-intuitive, isn't it? This business of slowing down, of being purposeful in quietude … it just doesn't come easy. Yet you rightly direct us there. It's there that our stores are replenished and His promises have such depth. It's the dwelling place He builds for us, and such a secure one at that!
"The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest." Isaiah 32:17 & 18
A wonderful post, Melinda. I love your last paragraph — so true and so beautifully written. Thanks for the reminder!
So true. I absolutely love silence. The stillness of it gives me peace. This is when God speaks to me. There are no distractions to interfere with what he needs to say!
You are such a gift!
Melinda, your post today was precious and made me stop and think about the quietness of Holiness.
It is my heartfelt prayer that we all can capture a bit of stillness and silence this Christmas season.
Love this post Melinda
“…keeping our inner flames burning bright for ourselves and those that will be drawn to its warmth.”
oh that I will let His light shine every day in every way!
Thank you for this, M. The phrase “lip service” comes to mind. I’m so guilty of not sitting quietly on a regular basis but then speaking as if I have. xoxo
Absolutely beautiful, Melinda.
Thanks for sharing.
Wishing you a SILENT NIGHT.
Melinda, I too am a gal who needs to re-center in silence. That still small whisper requires solitude. So thankful for His peace that can still be found in the hustle and bustle of the season.
I felt my “need” so profoundly last night. Exhausted from the sleepless night before and the day that unfolded with little rest for the weary, I was at my breaking point. After the kids went to bed, I simply curled up in my own and spent the next two hours listening and tending to the voice within.
This Christmas, more than any others before, has afforded me the understanding of the season more than any other. I cannot help but find Jesus in small and big ways at every turn, thus hastening my drive to stay at his feet even more.
I love your Christmas words and Christmas posts and anything that leads me to contemplate him more.
Have a great week, friend. Keep writing me some good thoughts this week.
So beautiful Melinda and so true. I am asking God to speak so clearly over me but yet give me quiet ears and heart to hear Him.
Love you girl.
I love my alone time, I value it, I come expectantly and honestly, I get a little disgruntled when my silence is taken away by others.
Happy Tuesday Friend!
Great post girl!!! How are you doing??? God has been speaking to me too about this very topic! I just posted a devo yesterday about learning to seek God’s presence. I learned a very important lesson from a four year old!! Gotta love kids 🙂