At a recent seminar for ministers, we were led in various spiritual practices over the course of a few days. Many of those practices involved contemplative experiences—and, namely, silence. Silence. Quietude. Not speaking. No conversation. Not reading. Not doing. Just sitting in silence. I soaked up the silence with much gratitude. Excitement even. “Oh, good. I get to be still. And quiet. No phone. No computer. Nothing.” I need silence. I need time alone to recharge, to pray, to meditate—with the only sounds being the hum of a fan or the sacred purr of a cat or the ritual call of a choir of cicadas.
Being alone and being quiet provides me the opportunity to stay in touch with my core—It helps keep me grounded, and I need that time to connect with my source. It’s part of my spiritual practice. Thus I coveted the time of silent contemplation at the recent seminar, but not everyone felt that way. In one of our check-ins, a self-identified extrovert asked, with some obvious frustration: “Why aren’t we talking?! I need to be TALKING!” Meanwhile, the introverts among us were basking in the glow of the nothing, enjoying the private moments, soaking up the solitude, and coveting the chance to process as introverts do—inside our heads.
What a beautiful thing—that we are all so different. We left the seminar recognizing that the choices along our spiritual paths are just that---choices. And based on our personalities and histories, our preferences varied wildly. But it was clear that with intention, we could ground ourselves more fully through some steady practice or spiritual ritual.
Some took time at the beginning of the day for meditation; others finished their days with song or prayer. Some went for walks to the water while others formed groups for sharing and reflection. We discussed the varied nature of our spiritual paths and noted how a single act of intention could shift a focus—from concern over the most recent e-mail to an inward journey of self-discovery. From staring at a screen to looking at the faces of others in whose eyes, if we really look, we may see our own reflection—and perhaps even a spark of divinity.
What brings you into focus? What takes you to the core of your being, and what sustains you along your spiritual path? It could be practicing yoga or painting a prayer or making a mandala. It might mean deep sharing with a spiritual companion or scribbling in a journal. What grounds you? Is it spending time alone or sitting beneath the shelter and magnificence of a tree whose roots dig deep and whose limbs reach to the sky? Perhaps your spiritual path involves a number of these practices. Whatever the case may be, take time to ground yourself. A steady practice not only helps keep us on track, it also helps us light the way for others. If you need silence, find silence. If you need a creative outlet, mold clay or paint or create a collage! May we honor and encourage one another along the way.
~Rev. Mary Frances Comer