Friday, March 09, 2007


I've recently begun reading Ruth Haley Barton's Invitation to Solitude and Silence. It seems especially appropriate for the Lenten season since I'm more in the mode for reflection anyway. And I'm finding that Barton has a lot to say that speaks to my life. She shares how in the midst of a hectic and busy schedule as a mom, church staffer and seminarian she found herself floundering spiritually. When she finally sought the help of a spiritual director, this is how that director summed it up: "Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear".

That image has stuck with me. I'm in much the same boat. Busy with home and work, church and hobbies, I rarely take time to sit unless I'm reading or eating. And those things don't bring an inner stillness.

So I've been starting to practice silence, trying to learn to still my body, my thoughts, and perhaps eventually, my soul. In that practice a new image surfaced that describes my current inner state: a boat, unanchored and adrift in open water. Oftentimes recently I've found myself wandering my house, lighting on one task briefly, then drifting on to another. My days sometimes lack focus and purpose. The unsettled river water keeps the boat drifting. All the more reason to continue practicing silence. My soul needs that settling. And in some ways I don't think the concept is not too much unlike the idea of fallowing that L.L. Barkat has suggested on her blog.

Is your soul anchored? Or are you adrift?

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf." Hebrews 6:19-20a

5 musings:

L.L. Barkat said...

I love this whole post. And you are tempting me with that book, though I've compacted not to buy anything new... so I've got to see about getting it at the library or elsewhere.

Anyway, I love the final quote from Hebrews. It speaks of the True Rest which gives us peace. Now... how to drink of that is another question entirely.

Curious... how are you practicing silence?

Llama Momma said...

I love this post. Some days and weeks I feel so anchored, then suddenly I find myself adrift again. I need this reminder to go back and anchor myself once again.

A Musing Mom said...

LL- Don't mean to tempt you further, but...there are practice exercises at the end of each chapter that I've been trying.

To sum it up: I'm sitting quietly for about 10 minutes at a time (it's tough, even for such a short interval). That said, I've only gone through the first two chapters. I'm not sure if it gets any more sophisticated than that, but I suspect not much.

LM-thanks. And thanks for the book recommendation too (took me long enough to get to it).

Anonymous said...

AMM -- This is beautiful. I love Ruth Haley Barton. I just finished her most recent book, Sacred Rhythms, in which she applies this same intentionality to developing a "rule of life."

I feel so proud of you (not really the right words, but you know what I mean) for saying "no" to the noise of our culture for just a few minutes each day. This is the kind of fallowing I'm craving in my own life right now.

Blessings to you in this.

LL -- I have the book I would be happy to let you borrow via USPS. Let me know!

L.L. Barkat said...

Charity, how wonderfully sweet. I sometimes take a long time to read a book, though, so you'd have to be sure you wouldn't mind having it gone for at least a few months. (I checked at my library. They didn't have it.)