I don’t know how many of you are aware of #God52. Given that I move in the same sort of Twitter circles as the majority of you, I suspect that most of you have come across it by now. If you haven’t, it’s well worth a look (and follow, and action!).
Anyway, this week’s challenge is to do with silence. Specifically, the challenge is this:
Now, I’m quite happy with silence. I often wonder what Myers-Briggs would make of me, because I’m happy charging around wildly but equally happy sitting quietly in my little sanctuary at home. However, the time thing might be a bit trickier. Having a one-and-a-half year-old pottering around the house makes fitting in large chunks of anything difficult for the majority of the day. But today, Little Boy was having a morning at nursery. The perfect time, I thought, for a chunk of silence. And to avoid the temptations that might distract me at home, I figured I’d combine my hour of silence with a walk in the country. We have a school cross country run that I’ve never been on, so I thought I’d take a map with me and work out the route, in advance of running it some time. This would help me towards one of my New Year’s Resolutions. What a brilliant idea – kill two birds with one stone.
Who was I kidding, eh?
You see, the walk was lovely, and it was silent. There wasn’t anyone to talk to, quite apart from anything else (though it wouldn’t be unprecedented for me to talk to myself…) But it didn’t really achieve what it should have done. The challenge was to, “to rest in the presence of God, and do nothing”. Now, I think it would have been possible to enjoy the hour of silence while on a walk. In fact, spending the hour out enjoying God’s creation may have been fabulous. The problem came with the idea of killing two birds with one stone. You see, part of the challenge was to address our, ‘overcomplicated, far-too-busy lives’. And what did I do? I tried to add another job to the silence. I spent more of my time thinking about my path through the fields than my path through life. I spent more time focusing on my map than on my Guide.
But it wasn’t a failure.
Sure, I don’t think I can genuinely count it as my hour of silence. But it wasn’t without success. You see, I spent an hour and a quarter trudging across fields and through some pretty muddy conditions. Apart from those moments when I feared straying into a bog and sinking without trace, only to be found in 578 years time with only my iphone to identify me, I did actually spend a lot of time with my focus on silence and enjoying it. Given the fact that I was out on a walk, my refrain was a call for God to guide me. It was all valuable time.
And that’s an important thing for me to remember. I think often we set ourselves targets in relation to spiritual disciplines and then are hard on ourselves for ‘failing’. But the fact of the matter is, little successes are still successes. Small steps in the right direction still get us closer to our destination. So, at some point this week, I’ll have another crack at the latest challenge. And I’ll be taking into that experience what I learnt from my walk today.