The Nouwen Challenge, pt. 2

“But it is actually best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Counselor won’t come… When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me.”  (John 16:7, 13-14)

Well, I gave it a shot today. I closed the door for 10 minutes, sat in the quiet and tried to see if God has anything to say. After a few minutes of pretty much nada, I started to get the sense that, at least for tonight, sitting quietly with God was the point. I’ll admit that sometimes it’s difficult figuring out the difference between God speaking through my conscience and my mind just wandering about, but I was clearly reminded that for many years my prayer life consisted of a dialogue, an ongoing conversation with God about the tapestry of daily events, instead of just lobbing up predictable requests (which he graciously fulfills).

There’s clearly a parallel here with what’s happening at work. In years past, I had a small group of coworkers with whom I spent a ton of time. We talked work, talked life, took coffee breaks together, and sometimes went out for a beer (after work, usually). Today I work with a great team of five others that I rarely see.  We call into team updates, use file sharing tools to swap documents, and most of all, use our Blackberrys to have quick chats or shoot off five-line e-mails. Perhaps my work lifestyle has overrun my work life. Is it possible that I’ve begun a Blackberry prayer life, shooting off quick businesslike requests without ever enjoying the presence of our omnipresent Creator? It’s time to reverse this trend.

Not a bad start for day one. In fact, when I glanced at the clock, thirteen minutes had gone by. More later. 

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The Nouwen Challenge, pt. 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about silence lately. I don’t encounter much of it in my life. Even when I’m alone at work, the silence is only external. Inside my head is a running dialogue of to do lists, e-mails, and ideas for getting stuff done. At home, the sounds inside and outside of my head are much more enjoyable, but the the noise exists nonetheless. I’m beginning to think that I thrive on it… I even have an iPod dock in the bathroom so I can boom music when I’m getting ready in the morning (music preferences in the bathroom… TMI?).

If you happen to be one of my regulars, you might remember my blog post about Henri Nouwen’s classic writings on solitude. Since writing that, felt a little convicted that I should go and revisit the post as a reader instead of it’s author. I’ve been noticing just how little time I give God to actually speak to me in silence. One of my favorite persons from the Bible is Elijah, and one of my favorite stories is found in 1 Kings 19 where God speaks to Elijah not in the deafening chaos around him, but in a still small voice. In my spiritual life, I’ve found that God works this way more often than not, perhaps waiting on the periphery until we make room for Him in the priorities of our daily lives.

All this to say that I’m challenging myself to something new this week and I’m inviting you to join me. I’m going to do what Nouwen suggests – starting off with just a little time every day to sit in silence and let God speak. I’m going to pick 10 minutes every day (not sure when yet… either during the work day or at night after the kids go to bed), go someplace dark and quiet, clear my mind of all the chaos, and try not to fall asleep.  Whaddya say, ya up for it?