Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spiritual Retreat

The Starette Farmhouse outside Statesville, NC
When you read this, I'll be attending a 2-day spiritual retreat for clergy. It's called "School of the Spirit," and it's sponsored by the Spiritual Formation Department of Davidson United Methodist Church.

We'll spend a lot of time in silence. We'll arrive and depart in silence. We'll eat some of our meals in silence. We'll be sent out to walk the grounds of the Starette Farm retreat center in silence. 

Some people would be driven crazy with this. Me, I love it. I have become convinced that if you want to hear from God, you have to get quiet. Silence. Solitude. Absolutely essential if you're going to grow spiritually. 

Maybe you remember the story of Elijah and the "still small voice" in 1 Kings 19:1-18. Elijah was exhausted. He was burned out. He was discouraged and depressed. He went to the mountain of God, and dramatic things happened. Powerful signs. Great wonders. Plenty of flash and bang. But God was not to be found there.

A mighty wind -- but God was not in it. A powerful earthquake -- but God was not in it. A devastating fire -- but God was not in it.

Where was God? In the still, small voice. Some translations say, "the sound of a gentle whisper." One of my seminary profs said the correct translation might be, "a silence so profound you could hear it."

Elijah met God in the silence. That's what I hope to be doing when you read this. 

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