Silence, stillness, solitude

This week I listened to an exception episode of an outstanding podcast. If you have never listened to “Encountering Silence,” I cannot recommend it enough. Hosts Cassidy, Kevin, and Carl spoke with that font of spiritual wisdom, Joyce Rupp. This is an episode I am sure I will listen to again, and I have already recommended it to several friends.

Labyrinth, National Shrine of St Therese, Juneau, AK – a place of exceptional silence and grace.

One of the things that most struck me was when Sr. Joyce spoke about silence and stillness. She was talking about how silence is one thing, but stillness is something else entirely. This is one of those things that I not given much thought to, so it made me stop and reflect.

Silence is a necessity to me. By nature, I am a kind of noisy person, but my nature also means having adequate amounts of silence in my day. My mornings are spent in silence as I awaken first and sit quietly, reading, praying, writing, thinking. You may notice a clear lack of stillness in that mix – more on that in a minute. If I do not get that quiet time, my day is simply off. People wonder why I wake up so early, but it is as necessary as a medication is for a chronic condition. Without it, I would not find the solitude that I require to be present in life.

My woods, my outdoor monastery.

I also like to walk, and while I used to always walk and listen to a podcast, I now generally walk in silence. After a hectic day at work, being in the forest, listening to the breeze in the trees, the birds singing, the movement of woodland creatures under the brush is all a healing balm to me. This is a kind of silence, but once again, not necessarily stillness.

Listening to the podcast reminded me that I might want to incorporate periods of stillness into my silence. I’m wondering what you all might think about this topic. Do you pursue intentional silence? Is stillness a practice in your life? What contemplative paths do you follow? I’m curious to see if we can find some conversation about this – even though the topic is silence. After all, know more about how we each live our silence might help us all.


7 thoughts on “Silence, stillness, solitude

  1. Hi Fran

    At 15.36pm on Wednesday this week our Minister rang to say he has tested positive for Covid. He has arranged for someone to lead Sunday morning service but as she is currently on holiday would I preach the sermon. Of course I said yes, that is what I am called to do. I was already leading the prayers, anyway. However, not much hope of silence or stillness this week then!

    For me stillness is probably a time in the garden. However it isn’t something I’ve really thought about. Perhaps I should. Thanks for the link. I will listen to it.

    Hope you are fit and well.



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  2. Silence and stillness-yes!!! Without them, I am frazzled and unfocused and really begin to resent the demands of God’s people. I am blessed to live in a place that affords me both, especially in the morning and late evening. Thank you for this post that reminds me of hoe important these gifts are!

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  3. I was just feeling the beauty of silence in my early morning walk through the tea gardens in India. I live in the foothills of the Himalayas. The sparkling drops of dew lit up the grass with silver pearls of radiant light. I felt the goodness of God in this treasured moment of stillness.

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