Monday, November 3, 2014

A Week of Silence (Melissa)

Keith and I have been looking forward to spending time in Taizé, France for a while now. Keith's wait has been for almost ten years while mine has only been for one or two years as I learned about the monastic, ecumenical community from him. At Taizé we took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; spending a week alone with the Lord - in silence. If you are like me, you may have many ideas of what a week in silence might include. I personally had no real idea of what to expect; I just wanted to meet with my God. But we made our plans in ignorance and as the week got closer we learned more practical details from others who had also experienced silence at Taize.

My perspective (and experience) of silence was very different than Keith's not only because we are different people, but because the men and women had different accommodations, routine, mentors, and interactions. My week of silence was a bit of a dichotomy. I would be surrounded by the noise and life of 3,000 teenagers for much of the time, while enjoying a small private room, kitchenette, and chapel almost completely to myself.

View of the courtyard from my room

My small room looked out into a heavily populated courtyard where students were often laughing, singing, pounding on garbage cans, or attempting to scare each other during most hours of the day or night. Even so, I sat at my little desk to study, eat meals, pray, and sing alone.

One of my favorite walks with God was down this path

My daily rhythm included morning, afternoon, and evening church services (which were attended by the entire community for a total of about three hours of church each day), meals before or after church, and a communal Bible study from 3:15-4:00pm. Aside from these events, my schedule was free to use as the Lord directed me. Often after I had finished a meal I would spend some time reflecting on what was said at service or something I had recently read in the Bible. God would gently reveal areas that I was holding onto or places in which I was being disobedient to what He asks in the Bible. For those of you who know me well, it won't surprise you that the topics God and I discussed had a lot to do with pride, being judgmental, unforgiveness, and surrender. As I allowed God the time to speak through His Word and the ideas presented through songs and prayers at church, my heart slowed down enough to listen and respond. Here are some takeaways I had from each day:

I am learning to listen for God's whisper. He has my full attention.

Surrendering my fears to the foot of the cross. I will not look back. My God will take care of me.

My fears at the foot of the cross

Prayed a lot for myself. Prayed a lot for Keith.

Slept all morning. :) Memorized 2 Corinthians 5:1-9. Wrote down reasons that Jesus is good and worshipped Him in the prayer room.

God gives good gifts. I wait in expectation for what He will give today.

Aside from the themes which God gave me to meditate and pray about each day, I also came away with these tidbits from my week of silence and stillness before God.

Lessons learned from silence:
"God is not hard to hear, but He may not be speaking about what you want Him to say."

"God gives hope."

"Nature expresses the glory and watchfulness of God."

"Real silence is inside. It isn't disturbed by noise on the outside." (As I mentioned earlier, I did my week of silence while 3,000 teenagers were NOT having a week of silence, but it really didn't seem to matter.)

"What God teaches us is meant to be shared. It takes on a deeper meaning when we explain it to someone else."

"Pausing is a good thing."

"Being separated from your husband is not a good thing."

"Silence makes my world very small. When there are no other voices, it's just God and I."

"Very few things I want to say are actually necessary."

Well, there you have it. We didn't receive any tangible direction about or future, except that it is filled with the love and hope of God who will continue to lead us each step of the way.

French countryside surrounding Taizé

1 comment:

  1. Special to read of your week of Silence Praying for you both as you continue to walk with the Lord of glory