As you may know from one of the tabs at the top of my blog, my friend Michelle and I invested a lot of time over the past several months in our mutual exploration of Into the Silence, a book on prayer by Martin Laird, O.S.A. Today, if all goes according to plan, Michelle and Marty are getting together in Pennsylvania while I am moping about in Ohio, wishing that I were sitting in a coffee shop with the two of them discussing the life of prayer.
As it happened, yesterday I was in fact sitting in a coffee shop with another friend, another spiritual director, and he had this to say: "These guys who write about prayer? They all live in community. They make the rest of us, living with our own dysfunctional communities of family, friends, and colleagues, feel as if we need to head for the empty desert when, in fact, they themselves are surrounded by others who make their lives of prayer possible."
It was actually a much longer conversation, but you get the idea.
And so the question becomes, how do we build healthy communities in which we support one another in the solitude of prayer?
I've said many times that my own church was simply too busy, too noisy, too active for me after Josh died.
And how many times have folks said to me, "I couldn't be silent for eight minutes, let alone eight days!"
Most of us are not about to build a literal monastery, and we are unlikely, if we are in mainline Protestant churches or ordinary 21st century families, to find much of an expressed interest in silence, whether communal or solitary.
What do you think? Do these questions exert any pull on you at all? Do you have some ideas about it ~ about how to introduce, create, and foster the experience of silence with God?