I tried an experiment on my second visit of the evening to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. I set the timer on my phone for five minutes, and I spent five minutes in silence, not reading anything, not saying anything, not looking my phone. It was just me sitting in a pew in semi-darkness for five minutes.
Five long minutes.
It’s amazing how society has conditioned us to need almost constant stimuli from the radio, television, tablets, internet, and smart phones. Our attention span is so much shorter than it was even twenty years ago.
It’s good for the soul to be silent.
I think of it like rebooting a computer every so often. It helps it to run more smoothly and to reset the equilibrium when things get a bit off-kilter.
We need rebooting periodically. That’s what silence and meditation are for. That’s what prayer and fasting are for. That’s why God instituted the Sabbath as a day of rest, although historically His people haven’t been very good at using that day for the purpose of which it was intended.
I’m not very good at any kind of silence. That five minutes seemed a lot longer to me than five minutes. It definitely seemed a lot longer than five minutes spent on Pinterest or Instagram. I’ve been known to waste way more than five minutes scrolling through the posts on Facebook at the end of the day.
Silence takes discipline, something that the culture around us seems to treat with disdain. You don’t see or hear many advertisements extolling the virtues of discipline and self-denial. Usually, it’s quite the opposite.
So there I was in that quiet space for five whole minutes, not saying anything, not reading anything, praying as I felt led. It was refreshing and soul-cleansing. I felt more relaxed and less anxious. I felt at peace with myself and with God.
I should probably do that more often.