By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
In my Confirmation and 5th & 6th grade classes I try to help students practice silence and centering. With eyes closed, there’s a moment of silence. Then I give directions to breath fears, anxiety out and to breath in God’s love, peace and joy. I’m not sure how it has helped students, but I feel so much better by taking ‘some time out to be’ (as Pastor Eileen always reminds us during Communion). I feel refreshed, relaxed and connected just by taking that short time of silence and centering prayer.
Then why can’t I practice this more often in my life. I engage in the usual things that everyone else similar in my life stage engages in like work, household chores, commuting, shuttling kids to practices, and other important responsibilities in life. Therefore, I have plenty to keep me busy, and I could make a fair case that I do not have time to sit in silence. But the problem is … that’s not entirely true. I do have the time and the need to practice silence more often. On top of that, I see that my family needs a father, husband, and faith leader who’s living out a centered and undistracted life. Because there are so many distractions that draw me away from centered and focused life, I’m probably modeling the opposite to my family.
During this Lent season I share my struggles in fasting from busy-ness, distractions and interruptions because we know that silence relieves stress and tension. Also, it improves memory, fights insomnia and heightens sensitivity. Surprisingly, it also stimulates brain growth!! (http://www.medicaldaily.com/5-health-benefits-being-silent-your-mind-and-body-396934) The practice of silence is almost a universal practice in many religious traditions. Then the natural question is, how can we reap more benefits from this ancient spiritual practice? And maybe we could help our children learn from our practice and modelling of silence.
One way is to acknowledge that we are over saturated with information, music, entertainment, sport events, news and social media. Yes, we’re way overloaded! Two, instead of thinking about silence as taking time out from life, see it as taking in more life. Moreover, see it as abandoning things and events that drain you of life so that you’re allowing growth, relaxation and mental attentiveness to fill you. Three, realize that doing nothing is sometimes doing something powerful. Have an abundant silent Lent!