After last year's Luminous Project gathering, Ian Cron suggested I read Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain. I'm finishing up the book, which has been an incredible experience. Merton's work, much like my experience at Luminous, has been deeply formative as I work through what it means to respond to God with my life and work. Silence has been a reocurring theme, and I've been wrestling with how to facilitate silence in my life nearly every day. It sounds ridiculous to say, "how to facilitate silence" but it's true. If it were easy to just shut up, I'd be well on my contemplative way. But it's something that takes tremendous effort.
I would love to give you a series of practical take aways that we are accustomed to in these types of posts. I could tell you to take longer showers, turn the radio off during your commute, wake up 30 minutes early, stay up later, etc etc etc. But the truth is, silence, just like any other spiritual practice, takes...practice. You must be intentional, you must facilitate silence by finding a rhythm. I am still searching for mine.
Here's the great news: when you find that rhythm, it becomes natural to respond to God with both life and work out of a spiritual depth and grace. I've known this to be true in my own life. I also heard Pete Wilson say once that writer's block is really just being empty. To break through the block, then, you just need to fill yourself up. Of course, there is no greater way than by spending time in silence and prayer. Here's a bit from Merton on his writing (and on life):
...I had found that the interval after the night office, in the great silence, between four and five-thirty, on the morning of feast days, was wonderful time to write verse. After two or three hours of prayer your mind is saturated in peace and the richness of the liturgy. The dawn is breaking outside the cold windows. If it is warm, the birds are already beginning to sing. Whole blocks of imagery seem to crystallize out as it were naturally in the silence and the peace, and the lines almost write themselves.
Yes, you will be more productive, more creative, and more pleasant if you find room for silence. But productivity and creativity are not, cannot, be the end goal. A life more firmly rooted in Christ's grace is the aim, and the rest are byproducts. Keep your eye on the prize. Find your rhythm.
This post was inspired by the Luminous Project. Luminous is a creative spiritual event in Nashville May 1-3, 2013. To find out more, check out www.luminousproject.com. You can use the promo code ‘BRINGitHERE’ to get 35% off the registration price.