By Andrew Kreye
One of my favorite things about winter is how quiet it is after a heavy snowfall.
I love to stand in the snow and just listen. If it were only a few months earlier, I would hear birds, squirrels, and bugs making a ruckus. But now, it’s like everything–every creature–is holding its breath.
There’s a sort of excited anticipation for me: “When will the next sound come?” But there’s peace and comfort, too. Nothing is going to surprise me because I can hear if anything moves.
There is no noise to cover up even the smallest sound.
I’m also a big fan of sitting in dimly lit Catholic chapels. Like the snow, it’s completely silent. I can watch the candle burning by the tabernacle and know that Jesus is with me.
Recently, I found myself on the balcony of a beautiful chapel before sunrise. As I watched the single candle burn on the Advent wreath, the same phrase kept running through my head:
In the stillness of my heart, You moved, O God, and sent ripples through my soul.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits and I hope for his word. My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak.” – Psalm 130:5-6
Saint Bruno of Cologne
“Only those who have experienced the solitude and the silence of the wilderness can know the benefit and divine joy they bring to those who love them.” – St. Bruno
There once was a man named Bruno.
Bruno was a German priest who lived in the 11th century. He founded the religious order of the Carthusians who are still around today.
The Carthusian monks spend most of their day in silence. And in silence, they open themselves to hearing every whisper of God’s voice.
As it says in the Carthusian Rule of Life, there are some people who Jesus desires to “lead into solitude and unite with himself in intimate love.”
They have nothing to gain in the world by choosing this life. Every day they have to choose to give up certain pleasures in this life because they know that the joy of God is better than anything the world can give.
Jesus only calls some people to live a life of outward solitude in this life, but he asks all of us to enter into silence.
How do you enter silence? Well, if I remember correctly, it’s the last door on the left.
Be Very, Very Quiet
“But, in order to hear the voice of God, one has to have silence in one’s soul and to keep silence; not a gloomy silence but an interior silence; that is to say, recollection in God.” – St. Faustina
Now, by silence, I don’t just mean the lack of noise you might find in a library (though, that’s part of it). I’m talking about getting rid of the clutter in your mind and heart: all the thoughts that preoccupy your time but that don’t benefit you or anyone else.
Basically, get rid of worries and anxieties about things that you can’t change. It may not be possible to get rid of them completely, and that’s OK. But give yourself permission to lay them down for a while at Jesus’ feet.
Focus your thoughts on the Lord. If your mind wanders when you close your eyes, find an image of Jesus and just look at him.
Just be still.
Look at the one who loves you, who knows you and chose you.
And let Him look at you.
Become aware of His intimate love for you.
Become aware of the silence that fills the room, holding you.
God longs to speak to us, but He doesn’t force us to hear. He lovingly whispers, and we won’t hear unless we take time to listen.
“The LORD came and stood there, calling out as before: ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’” – 1 Samuel 3:10
Learning to Wait
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
As an experienced over-thinker, I know it can be hard to not think about things. So accept little victories.
It takes time to develop focus. I may be able to sit quietly for a long time, but my mind is usually running laps.
It seems odd to say, but waiting has to be learned. It’s hard to learn because why would you wait for something when you could just have it right away?
I asked a fellow student what her favorite thing about waiting was. Her exact words were: “The anticipation of something amazingggg.”
So, why wait for something? Because waiting makes it better. Here are 3 reasons why:
- It gives you time to learn what you are receiving, which gives more meaning to what you receive.
- It lets you anticipate with excitement, which makes the payoff even more exciting.
- It allows you to prepare, whether that is emotionally, spiritually, or just by cleaning your room before a quest arrives.
This is why I love the Advent season. It gives me time to prepare for Christmas, but it also reminds me that I’m waiting for something else.
Advent gives me time to look at myself and see where I need to grow. To reflect in silence and to hear where God is calling me to go. And to prepare myself for when Christ returns, or for when God calls me home.
Until then, I’ll be waiting. Not idly. Not holding my breath. But preparing with excited anticipation for the day when I can finally say, “Hi, Jesus, I’m home.”
“Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.” – 1 Kings 19:11-13