Monday, January 14, 2008

Stark

Thorn Berry & Feather

Responding to the last post, Maria commented that she resists silence. Surely she is not alone.

Why do we resist?

Barton suggests that our "normal distractions...keep us out of touch with our interior world." Then she quotes Willard, who says, "Silence is frightening because it strips us as nothing else does, throwing us upon the stark realities of our life. It reminds us of death, which will cut us off from this world and leave only us and God. And in the quiet, what if there turns out to be very little between us and God?" (p.48)

This past weekend I had time to be more alone than usual, and I chose to go with it. I found myself feeling lonely. I was carrying some kind of sadness in my soul. Would I have noticed if I were distracted? Perhaps not. In my sadness, I found myself seeking God, leaning into His comfort. The sadness didn't really go away. But neither did the stark reality of my emotions leave me in despair.

In this way, I felt a strange hope. Not a happiness, surely not. But a hope. And that is a reality I can live with.


Red Berry on the Thorns photo, by L.L. Barkat.

NEW LINKS TO THIS POST:

L.L.'s The Gift of Sadness

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14 Comments:

Blogger kirsten said...

So easy to distract ourselves, isn't it? To escape with an increasing number of ways of avoiding ourselves. Maybe it's something in us that, undistracted, realizes we are ultimately meant for something and somewhere else.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

When it's silent here, I LOVE it. I bathe in it. But yes after awhile, I crave the noise. Or maybe it's just the people who make the noise. I think I'll always love and need silence in my life.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

So true. We fear what we do not understand. We fear that it will wind up leaving us alone, isolated from those whose love we love.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

"Stark"
Your title and photo are evocative, LL. They bring up images of what I perceive fasting (even fasting from noise and words and people) to be like... painful, cold, lonely, barren, even starving.

In reality, fasting is a cleansing of all the litter that comes between me and God.
It only looks stark because I'm unused to the simple lines and shadows of His presence. It only feels cold because I'm such a foreigner to the fresh air. It appears that I am starving only because the glut is being cut away from my spiritual life.

Another blessed result of the "starkness" you're writing about is the ability to uncover, examine and name the yearnings that lie beneath all of that litter. Not necessarily to be done with them, but (maybe for the first time) to know they exist and to understand on a new level how "lean-able" our Lord is.

Did you ever put your finger on your sadness?

11:21 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

I wanted to leave a comment, so you would know I was here, but couldn't think of anything worth saying. I clicked "comments" anyway and I'm glad I did. Otherwise I might have missed Erin's insight.

I wonder if you'd like A Place Of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous heather a. goodman said...

I'm beginning to understand why my dad didn't want to turn on the radio every time we jumped in the car.
I find myself resisting, too, these days.
There's a beauty in starkness, in minimalism. There's a beauty in the dead of winter that scrapes away the old and whispers hope of the new.

11:02 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Kirsten... And I think this is oddly why I felt hope. The strength to face one's emotions and the courage to uncover and deal with them is a wonderful gift. It is counter, for instance, to "drowning one's sorrows" in unhealthy relationships or addictions of various sorts.

Andrea... yes! I really do love silence. Sometimes it uncovers joy and sometimes pain, but it creates space, and I like that.

Christianne... I found your comment intriguing. Something about it said there is more to the story.

Erin... You! After I wrote the post I considered amending it and answering the very question you ask. But then I decided to leave it alone and see what came. You! You asked the question. And, yes, I did uncover several reasons for the sadness. Part of it related to missing some people, part to transitions (all good) that we're facing (even good change has its sense of loss for what was familiar and its anxiety for what will be), part of it was a sense of sorrow for certain things about our world. Out of this came a decision that on the Sabbath I should focus on things that bring joy-- relationships, rest, comedy instead of tragedy, meaningful ritual, pleasurable hobbies and so forth. It struck me that I need at least one day a week when I forget the difficult things in life and take pleasure in the good things. An excellent question indeed. And I liked your observations about fasting.

Craver... I think you are right, at least with the title. I'm in need of a little rest!

Heather... glad you took in the photo a little, or so it seems in your comment. I actually saw such beauty in the image.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, L.L. Thanks for sharing that. I believe I've experienced much of the same. It does seem all the "noise" of life leaves us with a numbness in our souls. Maybe we don't want the pain of reality, of the darkness into which the light needs to come.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

In a world of Xbox video games, iPods, 1000 channels delivered courtesy of your friendly cable/satellite provider, it gets more difficult to get silence.

The absence of noise and distraction is a rare commodity...yet as you've pointed out, so important to our souls

12:57 PM  
Blogger HighCallingBlogs.com said...

I love silence. It's so rare in our world. Even in the quietest places I go I hear the noises of the world. But silence is also scary, especially if it lasts for a long time. I don't have much tolerance for it. I like the idea of silence, but sometimes lack the discipline of embracing it.

Real Live Preacher

2:24 PM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

LL -- This post hit very close to home for me right now. My "silence" lately has been a lack of activity, a lack of purpose and a schedule. Everyone else is zipping around in their normal flurry, and I am here laying on the couch. I find this absence of activity leaving me feeling very naked and vulnerable. Yet, like you described, I find myself seeking the Lord in the middle of it. Thank you for articulating the struggle.

By the way, I like your purposeful Sabbath. I think I need to do the same this weekend. A sabbath rest from resting -- maybe a little more joyful activity with friends is in order!

5:43 PM  
OpenID spaghettipie said...

I like noise and activity because if left alone I have to deal with myself - my issues, my sin. Although more and more I find that when I'm in the car by myself, I like to turn off the radio sometimes. Or on the rare occasion I'm alone, I sometimes sit in the stillness. I don't last very long though - probably part personality and part avoidance.

1:20 AM  
Blogger nannykim said...

I have to have a time of silence each day--there is a powerful beauty in the silence. A time to listen to God, a time to reflect--a different world!

9:20 PM  
Blogger 23 degrees said...

I like the way you put this, "Leaning into his comfort."

Reminds me of my seven-year old when she leans against me as we stand and sing together at church. The best feeling for me, and I think for her too.

I betcha He loves it when we lean into Him.

9:42 PM  

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