Excitement of Silence

I’ve been hoping for something new and exciting to happen in my life. I’ve come to the conclusion that interesting things need to be sought, because if you wait around, they generally don’t happen on their own.

I found that my community (I live in a house of two couples and a single adult) did do something interesting this past weekend: We took a Sabbath on Sunday. No electronics, no work, no TV. Doesn’t sound interesting, right? Well, there was a lot of napping and quite a bit of reading, with a bit of board-gaming on the side. A quite scrumptiously boring ending to the jam-packed week I’d had. What I thought was interesting is that I woke up excited to start relaxing. I wanted to jump out of bed and get going on being rested. I’d had such a busy week that I was thrilled to really roll up my sleeves and get busy doing nothing.

In the chapter on Sabbath in Dr. Matthew Sleeth’s The Gospel According to the Earth, the author points out that the fourth commandment is the only one that begins with “remember.”

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “(Exodus 20:8-11)

Sleeth says it’s as though God knew that, though they were freed from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites would forget to stop working. I think he’s right. I certainly forget to stop working. Even when I’m not exactly working, I have a myriad of electronics holding my attention with emails, Facebook status updates, news alerts, and RSS feeds — not to mention the lure of online shopping. In today’s society, we must intentionally make room to “be still, and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). Practicing the Sabbath is the best way to do that.

And a practice it is. It takes deliberate shutting out of all the noise of life to achieve the sweet quiet that allows us to rest in God’s presence. Our group prays several times throughout the day. I read, but fiction wasn’t profitable last time and I think I’m going to restrict myself to books that focus on God. We listen to relaxing music, but it wasn’t edifying and I think I’d prefer to try listening to worship music only next time. I think the real trick is to not get caught up in balancing the restrictions and permissions, but to use them to create the space that allows us to personally connect with God.

I haven’t really mastered the trick, but I’m practicing.

By Leslie Paparone