Learning to be silent

This morning at college we were learning more about the BCP and Common Worship (I'm more comfortable with Common Worship). We were also learning about how to be silent. We are being encouraged to discover what might work best for us. Christina Baxter knows the BCP off by heart and so isn't troubled by the books (or the laptop in my case) which can seem sometimes to put a barrier in the way of clear and heart-felt communication with God. I'm still at the point of discovery, but I am enjoying Common Worship daily office. The words are beautiful and you do feel as though you are communicating in symphony with millions as you pray. Because though, I am yet to truly internalise the words and learn them, I still feel as though I am sometimes talking to God in a language that is not quite my own and so I am very eager to get to the intercessions part where I can pray in my own words for what is on my heart. I do love the routine of the daily office though, it suits my personality. I like order. I can understand that it will soon become an essential part of my day - I'd like to say as essential as breakfast but I'm quite used to leaving the house without breakfast. If it became as essential as my shower this would mean it had become absolutely obligatory - I simply can't start the day until I've showered and washed my hair, I'd like to feel the same way about my conversations with God in the daily office.

So I am to discover what will work for me but not give up. We are being encouraged to ask God to help us to learn our daily office off by heart and to expect that this will take time. These prayers will help us to understand the rhythm or pattern of worship.

Daily office is wonderful, perhaps in part, because it doesn't depend on my mood. If I don't feel like praying; the whole community can carry me in prayer; the rhythm of office can carry me into God's presence. Daily office works as a framework that holds us; it allows God to puts us back together and to start praying it in the good times means it will work to carry me through the bad times.

Because we also get to read extended passages of scripture and the parts we're not familiar with, we are taken over a period of time through the whole counsel of God. We are learning the mind of God and can listen to God through the scriptures.

We were advised that sometimes what the psalmist says to God is not what we want to say to God – but we're to think someone else may be saying those things. We are encouraged to be creative in how we use the psalms and the same is true for the canticles. We should allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in the liturgy; acknowledging times of disconnection, allowing God to work in us even though we're not connected. We are to remember that the Lord has put it on our hearts; this desire to want to speak with Him. He got us here but wants to speak to us in His time! That we are also with others who are seeking him is powerful.

We were encouraged to say to God: this is my big intention: I hope to commune with you in this way. We were asked 'Are you asking God for something for yourself? What does God most want to give you at the moment? How does he want to lead you on in your Christian life. Ask him to help you to listen to Him and worship Him. In the the daily office, it is good to say to God 'I am available to you'.'

When we come to worship corporately in the church, it is important to be open. Not all styles of worship will suit and we need to decide not to be infuriated. We should instead receive as if we have been given a gift from those leading and God. Some gifts are more useful than others.

All of this was very helpful and inspiring.

On Mondays, we also have an opportunity for silence for up to an hour. Silence can be frightening and threatening for many people because we are used to there being noise all the time. In silence more frightening things come to mind. We were encouraged to start with small and grow into longer periods and stick with it. We are to find somewhere where we can't be disturbed; to choose the right time of the day: a time when you might be attentive. If there are internal disruptions, it is good to write a note down. Thank God for the interruptions if it's about remembering something we are supposed to do, write it down and then put it to one side. If it's so important, then it might need dealing with before we can meet with God. When other things come to mind – our offensive ways – tell God you'll sort it, thank him for prompting you, ask for forgiveness. Perhaps we need to deal with these things too before we meet with God so that it doesn't get in the way. We were encouraged to think through what might help us to be physically attentive to God, sitting or kneeling; perhaps sitting with hands open. Maybe there is the need for a verse of scripture or the Jesus prayer. It is also good to be silent with others who are being silent. It is an important way of learning. We understand what God's purposes are for other people when we are silent with them.

I hope to learn to wait on him in the company of others in silence and grasp these opportunities when I can, I then might move into building some periods of silence into my daily life when I'm at home. This could prove more of a challenge but I feel excited about it.

1 comment:

Lynne said...

That's a beautiful way to learn and use liturgy -- an aspect of Anglicanism which has all but disappeared from my part of the world in favour of the generic evalgelical "quiet time", which has never worked for my temperament.
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