Silence & Ice cream…
I like to listen to the podcasts from Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. This is the church where Rob Bell is the teaching pastor. Anyway, this particular sermon was actually by Shane Hipps, the pastor for Trinity Mennonite Church. He is also an author. Check out more about him here. The sermon is titled, “A Gentle Stillness,” and it’s topic is the spiritual discipline of silence. Silence isn’t the same as solitude, rather it is an act of emptying one’s mind in order that the heart can connect with God. It isn’t an intellectual pursuit. I’m no expert in the area of silence, and it’s a discipline that I’d like to implement more often into my daily routine.
In an attempt to practice silence today, I decided that during my lunch period, at my desk today, I would give silence a try. It’s hard to do…especially at a school…but I thought it might be worth it. Hipps says that the discipline of silence isn’t a rejection of the mind, rather it’s an acknowledgment of it, as one attempts to distance oneself from it. If I could critique the sermon it would be that Hipps didn’t provide much practical advice in how silence is achieved. So, I thought about the spiritual writers that I’ve read who’ve said breathing is a key part to going inward, and decided to try silence through a breathing exercise.
As I sat at my desk, I tried to sit in my chair as comfortably as I could. I put away the distractions, rested my hands at my side, closed my eyes, and began to breath deeply. As deeply as I could. I inhaled untill my lungs could hold no more oxygen, then exhaled until there was no more breath in me. Then slowly, I did it again, and again, and numerous more times. I kept doing it until I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it. The next thing I knew, two of my students were calling my name from what seemed like an abyss, and I awoke to “teacher, teacher, ice cream?” And there were two of my female students standing there smiling, holding a delicious pre-packaged ice-cream cone just for me. It was delicious too. I don’t actually think I achieved silence, I think that I just fell asleep, because when they woke me, 20 minutes had passed like a flash.I need to do more reading on this practice, because I imagine that being awake during the time of one’s silence is vital for the benefit of communion with God… and I’m not so sure it’s supposed to end with ice cream…but I think ice cream after silence may be a good idea that the church fathers over-looked.