This is part of my Listening in Lent series in which I reflect on my experience of practicing listening during this holy season.
I can’t remember what exactly we were doing, but my brother and I were driving my mother crazy that Good Friday. Having attended Catholic school, we got the days leading up to Easter off from school. It must have been too cold to go outside, because I think we were doing what bored siblings on school break do — we fought. In exasperation, my mother announced that we would be silent from noon to 3 p.m., the time Jesus was thought to be dying on the cross. She directed us to, “think about what Jesus did for us.” We reluctantly complied and were (relatively) silent for the duration of the afternoon.
I don’t remember much about that three hours except that it was weird to be completely quiet, thinking about Jesus’ suffering and death. I’m fairly certain my mind didn’t stay focused on that contemplation, but I think we did — more or less — honor the silence.
As you know, I’ve been practicing listening this Lent and have seen and heard much come out in the silent space. Earlier this week, I had the privilege of leading worship at a local church’s women’s Lenten breakfast. I designed worship not with a sermon, but with time for the women to share their own reflections on scripture and how God worked in their lives.
I was dumbfounded by the results that were better than any sermon I could have ever written. They tearfully shared heart-wrenching stories of suffering in their lives along with the lessons learned and the meaning they derived from those experiences. Most importantly, they gave witness to how profoundly God met them in their pain, shame and blame. They spoke of how God’s love transformed them and continued to transform them.
All I did (and my mother so long ago), was create space for silence. The silent space allows stories of faith to be told around the table. It enables you to hear the presence of God’s still small voice beckoning to you. It gives you time to be a human being rather than a human “doing.”
Silence is perhaps the most important thing we can give ourselves during these sacred days of Holy Week. It gives us time to hear the familiar story of Jesus’ sharing of his last meal, his walk to his shameful death on the cross and his powerful display of redemptive love triumphing over death on Resurrection Sunday. We keep listening in the silence, finding the sacred connections between this sacred story and our everyday stories.
Take some silent time this Holy season. Please share here what comes up in the silence.