“Advent: the time to listen for footsteps — you can’t hear footsteps when you’re running yourself.” ~ Bill McKibben
You can’t hear footsteps when you’re running and you can’t hear someone speak when you’re talking over them. It’s just not going to happen. If we want to hear anything, we have to quiet ourselves so that we can give the other a chance to speak and/or make itself known. This is one of the premises of a silent retreat.
In a silent retreat, a person enters into silence for a set number of days — one of the classic retreats is thirty days. For that amount of time, there is no talking. There is no singing. There is no whispering. There is nothing but silence. The first couple of days are difficult because we are so used to communicating by speaking. Once we get the hang of not talking, we get into the really tough part of the retreat because, after silencing ourselves, we find out just how noisy our world truly is.
When we can block out the noises around us, it gets more difficult because there is often an internal “noise” that takes place. We can practically hear ourselves speaking internally. We hear conversations from the past. We bring into mind all sorts of noise. It invades our days and it even has the capability of invading, if not haunting, our nights. I have heard many people scream at night while on a silent retreat because their dreams are so very vivid.
Ah, but once we can cut through all of that noise and silence our interior selves, we are positioned to hear God speak to us. And He does. Trust me in this. He does. God communicates with us in a number of ways once we remove all the clutter that distracts us from hearing Him.
We are getting close to the end of our third week of Advent. There is not much time left before Christmas. This is the time when the noise of the world becomes louder in our minds because we are thinking more and more about the social aspects of Christmas. Did we finish our many errands for Christmas? Is everything prepared? Those questions often drown out the spiritual aspect of the season. Don’t let that happen.
“You can’t hear the footsteps when you’re running yourself.” Make sure that you leave sufficient amount of time each day to reflect upon the power of this holy season and to use the day to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Having all the presents wrapped and cookies baked won’t do a whole lot of good if you miss Jesus in the process.
FAITH ACTION: Slow yourself down today and take time to sit in silence so that you can listen for the Lord to speak to you.