Yesterday we launched a group
that will be talking about silence.
And studying solitude together.
I love the irony of it.
The reality is, however, as we set our hearts on pilgrimage and embark into new spiritual territory, it is helpful to have trusted guides and faithful companions.
Ruth Haley Barton is such a guide.
I stumbled across her books (well, our internship Director, Peter, thrust the books on me, saying ‘you’ve got to read these!’) about a year ago. Rooted in a solid orthodoxy and deeply rooted in God through her spiritual practices, her writing is soulful and substantial. She is a practitioner, not a theorist and observer. I also find her to be a great ‘bridge building’ author, whose works resonate as strongly with evangelicals as they do charismatics and contemplatives.
Her book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, takes the reader on a journey through the story of Elijah. Here are some excerpts from the first chapter:
“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. (advice from her spiritual director)
Solitude and Silence are not self indulgent exercises for times when an overcrowded soul needs a little time to itself. Rather they are concrete ways of opening to the presence of God beyond human effort and beyond the human constructs that cannot fully contain the Divine.
I needed to let the twin engines of desperation and desire lift me out of my stuck places into the realm where the spiritual life happens at God’s initiative rather than the pushing and forcing that often characterizes my effort.
The group members read a chapter from the book at home, and spend the week practicing the spiritual exercises Ruth suggests at the end of each chapter. Then we gather Monday mornings at 10 at the Vine, sit in silence together for a bit, and then practice deep listening to one another as we share how God has revealed Himself to us during the week. The book is $20 but there is no cost for the group, if anyone would like to join us! Its not too late, and there are two more spots available.