December 2, 2022

Guest Column / Richard Etienne

Find silence for God each day, listen to his message

Richard EtienneIt seemed time to ponder the role of silence in my life again.

This topic is one that I have focused on at various junctures in my life—only to return to a busier lifestyle until it becomes clear that something is missing again!

But, oh, how I avoid it!

It is so easy to look at that phone when it starts to get quiet. It is second nature to turn on some form of sound when I start on a journey in a vehicle. There is a natural tendency to start up the computer or turn on a television when I finally “crash” in the evening. To what ends I will go to create noise in my life!

I will even turn on a radio or television while I am busy with a somewhat mindless task (washing dishes, dusting, cooking, or woodworking, to name a few) just for background noise to avoid a silence!

Creating more silent space in my world is a lesson that I must return to regularly as I venture through life. It would be wonderful to learn this “once and for all,” but I have yet to reach this pinnacle. I must continue to be mindful of the tendency to avoid those silent moments.

My latest efforts require using a 20-minute timer and trying to just be still and breathe for this period of time. With some practice, it is actually getting easier.

I try to focus my mind on my breath and a couple of syllables—for example, Jesus, thank you or Spirit. I attempt to just “be,” to momentarily stop the impulse to be “doing” that next task on my to-do-list and just quietly rest in God’s hands.

On how many occasions in Scripture can one find Jesus has gone “away” to a deserted place or mountain to be alone and pray, listen and communicate with the Father?

On one such instance in the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus has left the crowds and gone up on a mountain (Lk 6:12). Need we strive for any less?

I wish you luck as you try to structure your time so that you can be with God in silence and listen for his message for you each day. And we all know that there is no time like the present!

(Richard Etienne has a degree in theology from Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad and resides in Newburgh, Ind.)

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