Maybe it is just because of the busyness of the last few weeks, or because Tom & I have just booked accommodation for our annual Advent retreat, but I have been thinking a lot lately about the need for rest and quietness in our lives. I think particularly as we move into what is generally the busiest and noisiest season of the year, it is important to set aside time for solitude and reflection.
This morning I was reflecting on Isaiah 30: 15
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength (TNIV)
or as it says in the New Living Translation
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
In the busyness of our lives trust and confidence in God often disappear, partly I suspect because our busyness focuses us away from God and onto the concerns and values of the consumer world around us. But there is more it it than that. It is in the place of solitude that we connect most powerfully to God – the place where we can hear the still small voice that Elijah had so much difficulty hearing. Here is a beautiful quote from Henri Nowen that seems to say it all
When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions. They your serious enjoyment can merge with an unmasking smile. Then your concern for others can be motivated more by their needs than your own. In short: you can care.
Let us therefore live our lives to the fullest, but let us not forget once in a while to get up long before dawn to leave the house and go to a lonely place. (Henri Nowen – Out of Solitude)
Now is the time to plan for rest, solitude and quietness during the hectic Advent and Christmas season. Block out some time on your calendar before it fills up with parties, concerts and shopping binges. Go on retreat and drink in the quiet confidence of God. It is probably the best gift you can give yourself and your family this Christmas season