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Silence is a mirror on your deepest self

On this Good Friday, we think about the tomb – a place of death and silence. And while we fight death, I submit that we need to embrace silence.  I run to stay in shape. It’s not a sport I enjoy; mostly it’s boring. I used to pass the time by listening to books-on-tape as I ran. Bu…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
On this Good Friday, we think about the tomb – a place of death and silence. And while we fight death, I submit that we need to embrace silence. 
I run to stay in shape. It’s not a sport I enjoy; mostly it’s boring. I used to pass the time by listening to books-on-tape as I ran. But in the last year or two I stopped doing that. Something inside me has always cried out for a quiet space, and fearing I was losing that, I began to reserve my running times to cultivate silence.

We need more silence in our lives – it’s a mirror on our deepest self. It’s where our minds and spirits are restored. Our modern lives are crammed with too much noise. The voices of others fill the quiet spaces where God whispers and ideas congeal. And in the welter of noise, we’re left estranged from ourselves, barely able to distinguish our own thoughts from the cascade of voices – the media echo chamber, the unsolicited negativity all around us.

Go into the woods for a few days and the jabber of the day’s news begins to recede (read about my son’s solitude experiment here). Prayer – that thing that seemed to be such a task – becomes not only possible, but enjoyable. We begin to get in touch with what Nouwen calls, “our sacred center, where God dwells.”

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find my own life stuck in a spin cycle that I can’t seem to stop. I’m on a plane as I write this. I need to back away from all the activity that jams my ability to receive. I bring myself up on charges, but so many of you reading this know you struggle in the same way. We need to push the “stop” button and commit to the silence that will help us find ourselves again.

Comments (13)

  • Dear Seth, I am writing in from Nigeria. stumbled on yr down-to-earth & deeply inspiring blog a few weeks ago while google-ing for insight in d career/ministry puzzle. After reading a few entries, I bookmarked yr blog and I have returned to it very often to learn from you and yr ministry. Yr entry on solitude is really timely. Life seems to be racing away, Yet,how much we need to hear GOD often. May God increase yr Ministry in Jesus name, AMEN.

  • Well come on up to NH and hit the mountains for a couple days. I’ll outfit you with gear, food and a map and drop you off at the trailhead. We’ve got these huts up here where you can stay overnight, so it doesn’t even have to be tenting it. The huts are still in their self-service season, so not many people use them, and you might see one person on the trail all day.

    This offer extends to anyone who is struggling like Seth. The White Mountains are my sanctuary with God, and I invite you all.

    [email protected]

  • Amen Seth. I too affirm that need for silence, even this morning as I enjoy some long overdue moments of unhurried quiet in my home. More Lord!

  • Mountains, hiking and time away are all an essential part for me – but I struggle more in the day-to-day spin cycle as Seth describes. Where is the “off” button and how do we acheive that? It is much more challenging than I imagined. Others’ ideas?

  • I just heard something similar in a song last night..

    It said something along the lines of the reason we sometimes dislike silence is because it’s heavy with Truth.

  • Thanks Seth, needed this. It’s funny, I thought being on the race I would have so much silence with God and I find it just as hard to silence so much of this world. I am learning more and more thought how much that time is needed and the true beauty of silence for the most precious Voice of all!!!!

  • Recurring theme with you lately, Seth – the need to do what brings you life, the need to pare away the excess activity, seeking out silence. It’s been around in your thoughts for a while. Maybe you should do something more proactive about it……just a thought……

    I echo the way you’re thinking. I die inside without space and silence and solitude, in little bursts all the time. It’s a rare thing in this loud world to give someone your full attention and to really listen. It’s a gift of honour to God to give it to Him.

    Can’t do what they do on TV soap operas and go off to some remote island “to find myself.” The Scottish comic Billy Connolly talks about that and says “yes, and the rest of us have to go to *!*!*!* work!”

    Little and often. See where your thoughts take you.

  • I am a person who doesn’t like silence….but have begun to have a quiet time each morning at 5:15….before anybody else is up. I have started to crave this time.
    This hits home as I need to LEARN to enjoy silence…and learn to listen for His Voice!!

  • So true, Seth. I meet with a mentor every month and we spend the first few minutes in absolute silence. What may only be seconds feels like forever to me, but once I settle in, the gift of silence is such an amazing thing. Thanks for sharing!

  • In the past I found it really easy to spend hours in that “secret place” with God but I have noticed how life in recent years has increased its pace.The darkness over this land has increased, over England there is a spirit of distraction and confusion that makes it so much more difficult to get that “quiet” time alone with God.Satan is very strategicaly doing things against christians to rob them of the most intimate time with their Saviour.

    I am now having to go to greater lengths to make sure I get these times and only last week I asked the Lord about “giving me some breathing time” from the “fight” just so I could find peace. He responded with ” There is no end to this war right now but what I will do is teach you to maintain your peace even in exile”.

    Not really the response I was looking for!

  • Yes, thanks for this blog. I too struggle so often, with allowing the busyness of our lives, or even the busyness of serving God to become a barrier to sitting silently before Jesus. There are times God is literally telling me to say no to people (even to my own family) and to the demands of the world, inorder to start to grasp the silence you are talking about. This morning God led me to Matthew 26:10-11 using the example of Mary, stopping and listening and just sitting at the feet of Jesus in silence. When Mary received “unsolicited negativity” Jesus said to them “Why are you bothering this women? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” I had to ask myself am I like Mary and living my life to an audience of the only one who matters? Then in verse 11 he said to Mary “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me”. Seth, between your teaching on silence and then God giving me this word today, I know Jesus is clearly saying stop, be silent, and just sit quietly and listen at the feet of Jesus.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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