The Soul Care Conference was all go! From John Brogden’s powerful, opening story, to electives interspersed with more great speakers, to catching up with colleagues over refreshments, it was very rich indeed. On the final day, Sally Longley’s ‘Spirituality for Busy People’, based on her book, Conversations with Silence, struck a chord with my own life and practice of contemplative spirituality.
Longley explains the importance of the musical term, the fermata, as a ‘grand pause’. Claude Debussy emphasises ‘the music is not in the notes, but in the silences in between’ (p102-3). Those pauses give richness and emphasis to the notes around them and allow space for our own interpretation. These short silences add grace, majesty and expectation to the whole piece.
Taking reflective pauses in life also adds richness and clarity. They help us identify how we have changed, what emotional burdens we are carrying and the opportunity to respond. Although taking many forms, a silent time of introspection is involved, achievable in big and small bites. I value short, daily, quiet times in a set place and time. That place soon begins to feel peaceful, becoming associated with reflective rest, and for me, communion with God. Our weekly, silent, 20-minute mantra group meditation, promotes inner stillness. A 15-second pause to take in a ‘snapshot’ of beauty, and lodge it in our memory, is one of our contemplative walking practices. Our monthly group, Sacred Space, offers time to quietly explore our spirituality together, amidst natural beauty. You are welcome to any of these – see the links below.
A longer retreat allows withdrawal from the pressures of daily life, in exchange for restful introspection. We emerge refreshed and energised. If they are currently impossible, we must find the momentary pauses life offers us instead. Even pauses in conversation are a gift of reflection and part of listening well.
To pause in the midst of the demands of our lives may feel like a waste of time. It’s not – it’s a rich gift to ourselves and to those around us. The pregnant pause beckons new life in us, as we rediscover our value base. It helps push away the loud, demanding voices that threaten to overwhelm us. Start small and be gentle with yourself – it takes a little practice. Sally Longley’s widely-researched book, describes her courageous journey to deep inside of her Australian soul, making it a helpful guide.
“You will be delivered by returning and resting;
your strength will lie in quiet confidence.”
The Bible, Isaiah 30:15(HCSB)
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.