“Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather it is the deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present, you will never find it.” – Thomas Merton
Though quiet spots are essential for spiritual strengthening and formation, they aren’t always attainable. As a musician, worship leader, father, and New Yorker, I am always surrounded by noise. With everything going on in our nation, I am also easily sucked into media when I am not catching up on my Netflix. I can’t deny it. Because of this, I know I must make an effort for silence, reflection, & meditation with the Lord to compensate the difference for the health of my soul. Solitude fuels us to be engaged and loving to the world. Solitude is our confidence when we are alone with Christ.
Let’s talk about the practices of silence, reflection, and meditation.
Silence can simply be quieting your thoughts, listening to your heart, and feeling your breath. It can be listening to the air and the sounds of nature. It can be acknowledging yourself as a living being and can be reminding yourself that the universe is much bigger than you. Henry Nouwen wrote, “Silence is the home of our words. Silence gives strength and fruitfulness to our words. We can even say that words are meant to disclose the mystery of silence from which they come.”
Reflection can be getting to a place – both physically and mentally – where we can contemplate our life, our worldview, and our faith. Reflecting on the Sacred Text is critical to develop a rich spiritual life that is in flow with the word of God. This can make us a more effective communicator and listener because we are connected to the Divine presence. James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. In our seeking of the presence in us and around us, truth and love are found and enjoyed.
Meditation can be zooming in on a specific element in the Sacred Text or on a specific attribute of God and turning it over in our hearts. Meditation can also be a combination of silence and reflection with a specific intention. An example would be meditating on the sovereignty of Trinity and allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by how sovereign She is.
As someone who has been entrusted to lead music for worship gatherings, I have said my fair share of dumb things from the microphone over the years. Ever since I have made these practices a critical part of my day, I now find myself communicating and articulating my thoughts more clearly from the microphone. Christ always found time to break away from the noise to be alone with the Father. Christ was an excellent communicator. We must do the same to have equipped minds and hearts. To become more and more like Christ, we must be formed in His nature and follow His example.
Ever since my family moved to New York City, I have realized more and more why the Lord has led me on a journey to study these practices. There is always a siren in the distance, horns honking and shouting in the streets. Looking for opportunities to find silence can be quite difficult.
What I am discovering is that I need to find silence in the midst of chaos. In the middle of a crowded subway, or walking ten blocks to my destination, I can find opportunities for reflection and silence. I can be with the Lord when I decide to show up. I can create my own moments of solitude in my everyday routine.
If we can choose to leave the headphones out and not always jump to entertain our boredom, we can learn to be fully present in the moment. And in that moment, we can close our eyes, and dwell on the peace and faithfulness of our Creator. When we consider the mercy and love dancing around us, we can find beauty in the absolute present.
We must train ourselves to be present no matter where we are. This can be our solitude.
Will Retheford is a worship pastor at Every Nation Church (New York, NY), a student at 10,000 Father’s Worship School, & is working on his Masters from General Theological Seminary. He was worked with artists such as Gungor, The Brilliance, and David Leonard from All Sons & Daughters. To read our review of Will’s latest CD take a look HERE.