Recently, I was the speaker at a silent retreat for the women in my church (and yes, that does strike as an oxymoron!). My talk was a “prompt” for the women as they spent the next four hours in silent reflection.
When I was first asked to be the speaker for this retreat, I was digging deep into a new series I’m writing for Revell. It’s a little different from the books about the Amish—this one is about Quaker Nantucket during the whaling period. Many people confuse the Amish and the Quakers, and while they hold some cardinal values in common (simple living, pacifism), they are two separate belief systems.
An emphasis in the Quaker life is on quiet, on listening to the “Light” within, to God’s Spirit. “Be still and know that I am God,” writes the psalmist. The Hebrew word for be still is “raphah”—which translates to stop striving. It’s not a passive quiet, but an active one. An intentional quiet. A Quaker quiet.
That was the aim that I crafted my talk around: creating quiet in our life to allow time to hear God’s voice. It is not easy. It’s pretty noisy out there! Here are some things I’ve been trying to incorporate in my own life:
5 Tips to Create Active Quiet
- Don’t turn the radio on in the car.
- At home, keep the TV off as background noise.
- Walk the dog without your Smartphone earbuds.
- Ask your children (or grandchildren) what they can hear in the quiet: birdsong, the hum of the refrigerator, the buzz of a bee.
- Instead of calling a friend, talk to God. Listen to God.
It takes an effort to reduce ambient noises that clamor for your attention, but it’s eternally worthwhile.
Suzanne Woods Fisher