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“I have calmed and quieted and my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother…”
(Psalm 131:2 CSB)

Blaise Pascal, the remarkable scientist, theologian and Christian of the seventeenth century, remarked in his Pensees (section 136) that “all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own room.”

“Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life… We do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him.”

(Henri Nouwen)

A daily practice to help us move in this direction
involves two rhythms:

Preparation in the morning and reflection in the evening.

“The practice of reviewing my day with God is rooted in the ancient practices of examen of consciousness (looking back over the day to notice God’s presence) and examen of conscience (noticing my response or lack of response to that presence). It helps me to release the events of this day to God, which then enables me to receive the gift of sleep that night and live in the new mercies that are awaiting me when I wake up the next morning.”

Ruth Haley Barton
(from Invitation to Solitude and Silence, IVP)

“To live a quiet life in a world of noise is a fight, a war of attrition, a calm rebellion against the status quo.”

John Mark Comer
(from The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, Waterbrook Press)

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying.”

(Mark 1:35 CSB)

“I’ve reorganized my life around three very simple goals:

1) Slow down.
2) Simplify my life around the practices of Jesus.
3) Live from a center of abiding.

Abiding is the metaphor I keep coming back to. I want so badly to live from a deep place of love, joy, and peace.

Nicholas Herman, the Parisian monk better known as Brother Lawrence, called this way of life ‘the practice of the presence of God’ because it takes practice to live from attention and awareness. Especially in the modern world.

These four practices: silence and solitude, Sabbath, simplicity, and slowing – have helped me tremendously to move toward abiding as my baseline. But to say it yet again, all four of them are a means to an end.

  • The end isn’t silence and solitude; it’s to come back to God and our true selves.
  • It isn’t Sabbath; it’s a restful, grateful life of ease, appreciation, wonder, and worship.
  • It isn’t simplicity; it’s freedom and focus on what matters most.
  • It isn’t even slowing; it’s to be present, to God, to people, to the moment.
And the goal is practice, not perfection. Multiple times a day, I slip back into hurry. The gravitational pull is overwhelming at times.”

John Mark Comer
(from The Ruthless Elimination of HurryWaterbrook Press)

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

(Matthew 11:28-30 CSB)