Learning to Love Silence and Solitude
- Friday, May 30, 2014
I love the quiet stillness of early morning when the house is dark and the only sound is the pop and gurgle of the coffee pot as it fills the kitchen with the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee. It is the perfect time to pray, collect my thoughts, and spend a few minutes reading and reflecting on God’s Word.
Whether it is the silence of morning, the quiet stillness at the end of the day, or a few moments of quiet time when little ones are napping, for many, silence and solitude is an essential part of keeping a quiet and content heart. It is often during those quiet moments that we are able to reflect on God’s blessings in our lives and his abundant grace towards us, and it is in the silence that we most often hear him speak to our hearts as we reflect on his Word and pour forth our prayers. The psalmist proclaims in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God...” And while some people are by nature more comfortable with their own thoughts and seek out solitude more often than others, I think learning to quiet our thoughts and be content in silence is a skill that is developed with practice.
As a general rule, children are rarely content with passing quiet moments in the company of just their own thoughts. Most children would much rather spend their time in the company of others. I think this is why young children have a difficult time lying quietly in bed until sleep overtakes them. But in generations past, children rarely had any other options—there were simply times when they had to be content with silence.
Today there are many people—especially those born into the age of technology—which have never heard the sound of silence or truly felt alone for even a moment. While I am thankful for modern technology that allows us to stay connected to family and friends in ways unavailable to previous generations and provides us with resources that allow us to see, listen, connect with others, and access all types of information, music, and entertainment almost anytime and anywhere, I think we must be careful or our children will miss the opportunity to learn to enjoy silence and solitude. Filling their minds with information is an essential part of learning, but children also need time to process that information; they need time to develop their own thoughts and to become comfortable with silence.
We were created for fellowship and so we naturally seek out companionship; our hearts were created for fellowship with our Creator and it is often only in solitude that we recognize our heart’s longing for fellowship and seek to commune with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. Prayer can naturally fill those quiet moments and our hearts can start to look forward to times of silence and solitude—times of quiet fellowship with our Lord and Savior. And while God may speak to us in any number of ways, he is often heard in those quiet moments we spend alone. When the Lord spoke to Elijah in 1 Kings 19, he was not heard in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, but rather it was a still, small voice that spoke to Elijah.
Of course, we may pray anywhere and anytime—and we should— but it is difficult to find comfort and companionship in the company of our Savior if there is the constant prattle of noise ever about us. Even Jesus sought out silence in solitude as recorded in Mark 1:35, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
Listening to others with our thoughts and attention completely focused on them is a skill that is not always easy to learn, but hearing that still, small, voice that speaks in the stillness to our hearts may be even harder, especially if we never stop to listen. While it may be easier to entertain our children with the technology that is available at our fingertips, let us be careful not to rob them of the opportunity to learn to love the sweet fellowship that is found when we commune with our Lord in silence and solitude.
Sheila Campbell began homeschooling in 1991 and graduated the last of her four children in the spring of 2009. After the death of her husband in 2001, Sheila homeschooled as a single parent. She also was the parent of a special needs child whom she cared for at home until his death in 2004. These difficulties have strengthened her walk with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and it is her prayer that her words will encourage and inspire others. Sheila is currently working on a book about the life of her handicapped son and how his life changed hers. Visit her blog at pausingtopraise.wordpress.com.
Copyright, 2013. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, November/December 2013. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
Publication date: May 30, 2014
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