Contemplative Life

Quiet in the (Beltway) Chaos

We live in a frenzied and seemingly chaotic world. We drive ourselves to distraction with our devices and multitasking. We strive for the next customer, contract, or position. For many the electronic world means that the work world is always present. We carry our smart phones everywhere, plugged into our super connected world, not wanting to miss anything on social media, the 24/7 news cycle, or the games we play. I could continue with illustrations of both the positives and the negatives of life today, but I’ll leave that to you, dear reader, for your own specific temptations with this! My task is to ask a simple question: how are we to live today?

For those who want to be like Jesus, of course his life offers the best answers. Early in the morning Jesus went out to pray. (Mk 1:35) His pattern after significant encounters was to seek time away. (Luke 9:10). In the Garden of Gethsemane he separated himself to pray and seek his Father before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. (Luke 22:41) Our Lord sets the example for us to follow. We withdraw on a periodic basis and seek God. He will lead us into the next steps.

We practice spiritual disciplines to be intentional about inviting God into our lives. One of the most challenging one for us, and also particularly powerful, is silence. Silence, not for its own sake, but to open a space in which to encounter God. As the Psalmist says, “For God alone my soul waits in silence.” (Ps. 63:1) Another illustrative figure in the Old Testament is Elijah in 1 Kings 19:10-18, where God show up not in an earthquake or mighty wind but in the whisper, in the still small voice, in the silence.

Especially because of the noise that surrounds our Beltway lives, Coracle regularly is offering a time of silence for the sake of encounter with God. On the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month we meet from 7pm-8.30pm at my house in Falls Church to separate and experience the Lord in silence, and engaging other spiritual practices as well that give some quiet in the chaos. This particular group is always open and does not require a commitment to attend regularly.

A typical evening for the last few months has looked like this:

1. We seek to separate from our day by entering into a period of silence, inviting God to be present and allowing our thoughts and burdens to be set aside for awhile.

2. We have been using the method of Lectio Divina to enter into Scripture and then into prayer to listen for what the Lord might have for us today, moving from the intellectual to the heart so that both are together as we seek union with God. We find that the Lord knows all about our concerns and burdens of the day, and that He speaks to each individually concerning specific situations.

3. We end with reflection on an aspect of silence, such as silence in words, thoughts, activities, and so on.

Encountering God in this way is life changing. I notice opportunities for silence throughout the day. I turn the radio and tv on less frequently. By encountering God throughout the day in these moments of silence, my freneticism diminishes and order results. Most importantly, I become more known to God and known by God and more familiar with His voice. Not only does He provide direction, but he also provides correction. Uncomfortable? Yes, it sure can be. Life changing? Absolutely. Silence is the doorway through which we open our souls to wait for God alone.

Send me an email at if you want to be added to the Silence and Spiritual Practice group email list as well as to get more information about how to get to where we meet or with any other questions.

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