by June Friesen
Quiet Day, also known as National Don’t Utter a Word Day, is observed annually on February 25th. As I was scrolling through my computer looking for things on stillness and being quiet I discovered there is a day set aside for quietness. It is also an international day. As I pondered this I was also intrigued that we hear little about this special day and even less people seem to ever talk about practicing a quiet day. Several years ago when I was in a program of religious study one of the disciplines that was taught was ‘to take time away and just sit….observe…..listen…..be…..’ Even though I have always been a person who has not liked much noise around me whether in my home or anywhere else, this was intriguing. It was not something that I was taught as a child or a young person, especially in the religious realm. Now this is a time that I value highly as it gives me opportunity to clear my mind and spirit as well as it opens my spirit to creativity and wonder. So I did a bit of research and I found three quotes that hold great gifts of wisdom. Let me share them with you.
“Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.” – Plutarch
“The quieter you become the more you are able to hear.” Rumi
“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” Stephen Hawking
I had thought to add just one of these quotes however they seem to compliment each other. We will refer to them a little more later.
Let us also look at a time of quiet in the life of Jesus.
As I thought about quietness in the Scriptures I was reminded first of all of the time immediately following the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 4. Here we find Jesus going out into the wilderness/desert by Himself for forty days.
1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
4 Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
5-6 For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
7 Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
8-9 For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
10 Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
11 The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.
I find it interesting that it tells us that Jesus fasted and prayed alone to prepare Himself for the time ahead of Him. While I am sure that part of that was the tests from the devil, I am sure it was also a time where His spirit was one on one with the Father and the Spirit as He prepared for the three years of ministry here on this earth before His death and resurrection. In the gospels there are times that it says Jesus withdrew from the crowds for a time alone, sometimes with His disciples and sometimes alone.
When one is reading the whole of the Scriptures we find that there were others who also spent time alone with God, some it was a part of their job such as David the shepherd, while others it was a time away from people for preparation or work such as Moses spending time in the wilderness before he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. It was at these times that these people were open to God’s preparation as they were then called into ministry for Him.
So today we are challenged and encouraged to lower the noise level around us, around the world, in the environment. Have you ever heard someone refer to the noise of the city as pollution? As I was writing this I was conscious of all of the noise I heard even though I was inside my home with all the windows and doors closed. I hear people yelling, people talking, a cat meowing, planes overhead, cars going by (some more noisy than others), an occasional dog bark etc. I then remembered how during the beginning of covid when there was a curfew in effect in our city for a few weeks and how quiet it was. It is amazing how desensitized we have become to noise and often we do not even realize the gift of quiet. It is a gift as it not only gives one’s ears a rest as well as it also gives one’s mind and spirit rest.
Did you know that if you reduce the noise level around you and in your home it will also reduce your stress? If I am home alone it is usually quiet – there is no radio, stereo or television on. It is not that I mind if they are on occasionally or it they are being listened too or watched however they are not needed just for noise in the background. This may be a practice that you could try sometimes and see how you like the quiet. Some churches practice quiet as a part of their services or they have ‘quiet days’ when they offer time on the campus and/or in the church to just ‘be’ with God alone.
Maybe today could be a day when you try one brief practice of quiet in your home, workplace or outdoors. Choose to eat your dinner in silence. Take a walk or sit alone as you have a lunch or coffee break at work. Take that time to allow your heart to be filled with gratitude to God for His amazing blessings.
IN THE QUIET
God, help me still the racing thoughts of my mind,
Help me still the movements of my hands and fingers
And may they rest peacefully for while,
Help me still my feet from running to and fro
And even from wiggling as I choose to rest for a moment or two.
Help me sit with a restful, relaxed pose
Embracing Your embrace O Spirit –
Yes, in the quiet let me rest –
Let me wait –
Let me listen –
Let me hear –
Let me be –
Let me lean back –
Back into Your presence O God –
Feeling Your heart beat through mine –
O how beautiful it is O God –
Just to be –
Just to be alone,
Quiet with Thee.
I encourage you to make a copy of this little prayer – save it in your phone or carry it with you – and from time to time – take a moment and just be quiet and alone with God.
Writing and photos by June Friesen. Scripture is from The Message translation.
Preparing for the Garden Walk of Holy Week
In the last few days of his life, Jesus moved from garden to garden from suffering to resurrection.
Join Christine Sine for a Lent retreat that reflects on this journey and prepares for the challenging week that follows Palm Sunday.