This past Sunday we continued our nine month study on the Fruits of the Spirit. Our focus for August is the fruit of Gentleness. This week we talked about how solitude and silence are a gateway into gentleness. Our culture shys away from silence and solitude- it's all about more, bigger, better, action, gaining, winning, being center stage. Silence and solitude are the polar opposites. They are a quiet descent into humility- a humility born out of knowing God's gentleness. And agentleness that is strong enough to tear away our false pride and ego so that our true self is revealed, embraced and loved by God.
In Micah 6:8 reads "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." We can only walk humbly with a God who we know and believe to be gentle. We don't cower in fear or feel the need to perform to gain love when we believe that God is gentle. Instead we can learn what it means to walk humbly with Him; to act justly and to love mercy. God invites us into silence and solitude so that we can learn that He is gentle, and to help us divest ourselves from our self absorbednature. In silence we learn that our thinking is not the end all. When our mindless brain chatter finally slows we become aware of the greater reality that surrounds us. In solitude the silence of God fills our beings, and indeed the universe, with His presence, peace and vastness that is totally other and yet completely ours. We finally realize, at a whole new level, we are not the end all- there is a God and we are not Him.
Once we have experienced with silence and solitude for a season, we often find that not only do we see God differently we also see ourselves and others differently. We find that we are more gentle with ourselves which is, more often than not, a prerequisite to being gentle with others. We come to see how we are all connected- no one is more important than another, we are all equally beloved children of God. The endless need to succeed, be right, be perfect, be wanted, be known, slowly has less and less importance. We soften, we become who we are- a child in the image of our God- gentle and humble in heart. Not always, not perfectly, but it is certainly there.
A commitment to practicing solitude and silenceis simply that- a commitment- an answer to an invitation. It is not a means to an end - it is the journey itself. It is fraught with frustration as the mind doesn't want to still itself and the ego fights at every turn. It will never be done with perfection and there are a hundred different ways to practice it. But if we take the journey and say yes to the invitation, we will find magnificent vistas in ourselves, others, and the world, beyond what we could ever imagine.
By Babs May-Clark