Thursday, September 12, 2013

Quiet Days

I have been reflecting recently about quiet days. As many of you know, once a month I open my home to up to twelve guests. We gather over coffee then share a few words of introduction, look at the Bible together and then go into a long period of quiet - almost two hours. We share lunch and chat, then repeat the morning programme ending with tea.

I have done about sixty of these, monthly over the last six years. This week, for the first time, after a chance encounter at my first and only training day on this subject, I led a quiet day for another group. The deanery chapter from Axbridge asked me to offer some input.

In their briefing they specifically requested I make sure the morning included an hour and a half of quiet at minimum. It had never occurred to me to offer any less. For me it seems that a prayer meeting should be largely about prayer and a quiet day largely about quiet.

I enjoyed doing the day and was thanked for a different style to that expected. Too many quiet days are full of words and activity.

But my reflection is this, building on one of my maxims that in meetings, events and gatherings as far possible the audience should set the mood. My quiet days are not regimented. The only thing that happens is that we remove noise. The guests (audience) are free to read, write, draw or even work. They can treat the house as a library or a monastery. Turning off the phone and any other noise sources removes one thing from life that normally distracts. Having it in someone else's house saves you noticing jobs that need doing. By you at any rate. It is a gift of silence and space. No more and no less.

Taking up quiet by spending a whole day in reflection without any stimulus is a bit like taking up climbing on The Matterhorn. You may reach its peak someday, but meantime find a wall on which to practise.

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