Monday, January 5
For Sunday, January 11, 1st Sunday after Epiphany
READ: Acts 19.1-7 “interior regions”
REFLECT: Our office takes small groups of students on a 2-3 day silent retreat twice a year. The retreat house is out in the middle of the country. One could say it is in the “interior region” of Georgia. There is no Wi-Fi and cell phone service is spotty at best. Retreatants regularly tell us that the idea of going into complete silence for a few days make them anxious. There’s no telling what might come up when there are no distractions.
This idea of a retreat is what came up when I first read through this passage – a silent retreat into the interior regions of one’s self. As I continued reading and praying through this passage, I imagined Paul traveling through the interior regions of his heart, and there in the silence encountering the Holy Spirit.
Silence is something I’ve learned to cultivate in my life, to crave, even. At first, turning off the radio during my morning commute was a way to be present and really see the sunrise, rather than being transported somewhere else by the music. If you’ve ever seen the sun rise over the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, you’ll understand why this was something that I wanted to experience as fully as possible. Over time, this became a habit – turning off the radio, anticipating the sunrise, and being filled with the wonders of God’s glory expressed in creation. And I began to crave this daily experience.
Many years later, I read Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit,” and I finally understood how this habit was formed. He calls it a “habit loop” that begins with a cue, then the habit runs its course on autopilot, and finally the reward is received. The reward is the thing that we crave and the way that habits take root. To make or change a habit, one must first identify the craving.
What I came to crave in watching the sunrise was the sense of deep communion with God that is beyond words, and it took silence to get there, to find my way to the interior regions of my heart. It is the place where God dwells and waits for me to come and rest and be renewed.
RESPOND: God, draw us down into deep silence in our lives. For when we move past the fears that we avoid and that go unacknowledged, we will find you. Help us to find our way into these interior regions, and to make these ways into well-worn paths, places we crave to visit and to ultimately become the centers from which we live.
So how do you do it? Where do you start when it feels impossible and terrifying to carve out silence in your life? You start small. According to Duhigg, willpower is not used once a routine becomes a habit, which happens automatically. But willpower is used in the formation of a habit. It is like a muscle, and muscles can get fatigued. But starting small and building up over time, the muscle gets stronger and eventually you do not need to exert the same amount of energy to perform the routine. Thus, a habit is born.
LECTIONARY TEXTS FOR THE UPCOMING SUNDAY (and for you to try on your own):
Lectio Divina Paci is a weekly devotional guide by Audrey Hindes for peacemakers in the lectio divina form. Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection that treats scripture as the Living Word. Lectio Divina Paci is an opportunity for peacemakers to become more in tune with the voice of the Prince of Peace.