On a planet where there can be a cacophony of voices, strident experiences of discord and noisy upset, times of quiet can seem appealing. The desert times in Lent, offer opportunities to come apart from the harsh discourses of our society, and to notice the quietness of the natural world. That can be appealing.
However as we are lead further into the wilderness, the quietness that seemed so soothing in the beginning, can become unsettling. In the silence, all the distractions fall away, and we are left alone with ourselves and with God. This can be a scary place, as we notice things about ourselves that we do not like, things we were trying to bury deep down, and to deny.
Mother Theresa is reported to have said: ‘in the silence of the heart, God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.’
In the quietness of the desert, we hear our own heartbeat, we reflect on our lives, and we see both ugliness and beauty. We celebrate the beauty, but we cry out to God with anguish about the selfishness, pain and sin we see within. We have to confront our inner demons, and cast them out in Jesus name. And then we ask for the holy spirit to cleanse us and fill us with light, goodness, love and hope.
The profound silence of the desert is both welcoming and then disturbing. It is a time of disarming honesty, when we need to confess our sin, and then journey on to find forgiveness and peace. There can be moments when we fear we are stuck, and the darkness weighs heavily on our souls.
There are echoes too of that silence, when Jesus gave his life for us on the cross, when the whole world held its breath. God invites us into that eternal moment of silence and revelation, when we realise anew the vastness of love, and the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are drawn into a moment of revelation and reverence, which transforms the meaning of all things. In his trial and final days on earth, Jesus spoke so little, but his silence spoke eloquently and profoundly of his Father’s purpose and His mission of love.
‘ He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter’ Isaiah 53: 7
Eternal Father, we think we like silence, but we are also threatened by it, for in the silence we have to face our darkest fears, and release our deepest secrets. It can be an agonising time of realisation and pain. In the desert spaces of our lives, Lord Jesus have mercy on us, help us forgive ourselves as You have forgiven us. Help us weave times of silence into our daily lives, so we can hear Your voice. Holy spirit, when we see the brokenness of our own internal landscape, may your healing go deep, liberating us, and giving us insight, and strength to form new patterns. Guard and guide us, as we continue our journey, Amen