Practicing Solitude and Silence

To put off the old person and put on the new we need only follow Jesus into the activities that he engaged in to nurture his own life in relation to the Father. Of course, his calling and mission were out of all proportion to ours, and he never had our weaknesses. Still, what he practiced is, roughly, what we must practice, in order to enter into his heart and character. For example, solitude had a huge place in his life, as the gospel records show.

By solitude we mean being out of human contact, being alone, and being so for lengthy periods of time. To get out of human contact is not something that can be done in a short while, for such contact lingers long after it is, in one sense, over. Silence, a gift of many dimensions, is a natural part of solitude and essential to its fullness. Most noise involves human contact. Silence means to escape from sounds and noises, other than perhaps the gentle sounds of nature. But it also means not talking, and the effects of not talking on our soul are different from those of simple quietness. Both dimensions of silence are crucial for the breaking of old habits and the formation of Christ’s character in us. Silence well practiced is like the wind of eternity blowing upon us.

From Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks. Copyright © 2016 by Willard Family Trust. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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