Tuesday, June 15

Connecting Sabbath, Justice, and Silence

In case you haven’t noticed, I am very interested in the connection between Sabbath and Justice. In my own life, I have noticed that I need my spiritual practices or practices of wholeness in order to prepare myself for the work of the people that I am called to participate in. I remember when I was going through my discernment process, I was advised to turn the radio off and to not read the news. Why? In order to rest my ears from the cries of all the hurting in the world.

Not to ignore it.

But to rest from it.

Does this remove your thinking about it? No! But I’ve gotten better over the years at setting a hard boundary of thought.

“God is the friend of silence.” Mother Theresa

Silencing your own thoughts and stilling your spirit can be hard work but it is worth it. When you silence words, other aspects of being open up. Maybe those silent monks know what they are [not] talking about!

You become open. To art. To music. To nature. To the Cosmos. To the Divine.

I remember a while ago, about 12 years ago to be somewhat exact, I went on a weekend retreat. It started out as most retreats do. Names. Where are you froms. That sort of thing. Then they said, “While you are here, we will take care of time for you. You don’t need to worry about it. So now, go put away your watches and your cell phones.”

Of course, this is where you start thinking, “Am I in a cult?”

Then they said, “It is now time for the end of our day. You can go back to your room [which we shared with six people] and rest for the evening. But for now, it will be a silent retreat. No talking until morning after prayers.”


I don’t know if you understand what that means to a verbose extrovert. Double gak. But I complied. I was not exactly comfortable with being among 60 people and the sheer noise of the quietness. The silence felt so loud! So forced! But I did it! And from that moment, the weekend started slowing down.

By letting go of noise and time, time lost its power over me. Hmm. I think I just talked myself into committing to technology free Sabbath days. (My Monday is my Sabbath, FYI!) Or at least telephone free Sabbath days.

Silence. Rest. Sabbath.

It’s just divine.

(Take a listen to Beethoven's Silence)

Silence by Pieter Musterd CC (AT NC ND)
Listen to the Music by Pieter Musterd (flickr.com)

Shalom and Amen!


  • This rings my chimes. Back in my Christian days, I went on a retreat at Palisades … a SILENT retreat. It was one of the half-dozen hardest things I ever did — right up there with giving up pizza for Lent. (I’m serious!) Anyway, at the very end as we were all packing up & leaving, I approached the retreat master, told him I was new to the whole retreat thing, told him how hard it was to be friggin’ QUIET, and asked him if there was such a thing as a NOISY retreat.

      • I understand the rationale behind silent retreats. I really do. But the only times I’ve had anything that might … maybe … arguably … be called a “mystical experience” or even (after a fashion) an “experience of God” have occurred in company with other people I’m committed to, specifically my in-law family. I mean times like https://beguineagain.com/2014/04/03/skeptics-heaven/ and https://beguineagain.com/2015/01/08/a-skeptics-heaven-the-sequel/ when everyone was eating and laughing and talking and maybe a tad loose and happy after 3 or 4 beers. The sheer GRACIOUSNESS of such times in company with others strikes me because of the open-handed and -hearted ACCEPTANCE that ion no way references God. (My in-laws are all Buddhist.) I’ve never found anything analogous in a silent retreat, just a constant uptight paranoia about making noise, even a good belly-laugh. That said, to each their own, of course. But gimme the symphony of the human voice any day.

        • So, I’m outlining my next sermon which will be on privilege. 🙂

          It just occurred to me that as I was outlining, one of the ways we grow is to go into uncomfortable places. (Using the Mark passage with Jesus/disciples on the lake…storm coming…etc.)

          That was uncomfortable. They were challenged physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Their retreat took them to uncomfortable places. And then they learned new things.

          For some of us, silence is a way of being uncomfortable that allows us to learn new things. AND the gracious company of loved ones reinforces things learned, such as love, acceptance, joy.

          Maybe. 🙂

          • Yeah … That’s a good point. Maybe I’d be better at silent retreats with practice. But as it is, going to visit in-laws is something I’m drawn to & would do voluntarily … in fact, enthusiastically, vs. going on a silent retreat because … well … the rules of the retreat say STFU so I do.

          • Yep, yep. Maybe for people like you and me, we need discomfort to grown. I envy (holy envy) people who seem so gracious and loving just because that is how they are formed. I’m afeared I had to grow into it. 🙂

          • With my in-laws, it seems so natural. I suspect that’s partially because of Hawaii’s “aloha” culture and partly that’s just the as they are. I gravitate to that even more strongly in my post-Christian life because of my present mindset that tells me I’ve busted enough guts for Jesus … IOW “I gave at the office” … and my in-law family is where I get the “strokes and props” I never got from God. Besides, I think my in-law family being Buddhist helps. Sure, humans being humans, there are Buddhist assholes same as Christian. But in my experience, Buddhists are more prone to start out from a place of tolerance and non-judgment. But maybe that’s a combination of Buddhism and aloha. OTOH I do practice vipassana meditation, which means spending, like, 10 WHOLE MINUTES A DAY sitting “za-zen”. That’s about my max silence threshold.

          • I think the most remarkable thing about my in-laws, though, is that I have been “Kimo” FROM THE VERY EARLIEST GET-GO. I met them all for the first time in early Aug of 1984 when I was there (Hilo and Honolulu) for the wedding. There was this series of parties, dinners, picnics, etc. to meet Diane’s fiancée & soon-to-be husband. (We were married 18 Aug 84.) But I was never treated as a novelty. Everyone wanted to meet & get to know me, sure. But that’s not what I mean. I was never treated like some exotic form of wildlife to be examined and evaluated. Just pull up a chair, crack a beer, eat lots of sushi and sashimi and kalua pork and poke and mac salad and, as the Hawaiians say, “talk story”. That’s all. They even teased me. I remember one of Diane’s nieces Robyn saying my skin was so pale & untanned I shouldn’t go in the water. She tapped the brim of my baseball cap and said “Ooo! You’re shark bait!” All after having known me for 15 minutes. She is now one of the people in the family I’m closest to.

      • My experience with my in-laws is an experience of what you might call “ANTI-gak”. I never tell in-law jokes, freakin’ LEAST of all mother-in-law jokes. If my experience of God were 1/2 … hell … 1/10 … as good as my experience with my in-laws (esp parents-in-law) I’d be on my knees, lighting candles, weeping, gibbering, spraining my gimpy knee genuflecting, and praying in High-Church Latin every hour on the hour. And my opinion of them is reciprocated. To my in-laws “Kimo” — Hawaiian for “Jim” — is much “da man”!

Leave a Reply