Children and Silence

by Andrew Tash

One time I was listening to Dallas Willard and he said “You have to serve what you’re cooking.” Lately I’ve been “cooking” on the habit of spiritual disciplines. Several years ago, I had a concerted effort to integrate spiritual disciplines into my routines. Being part of a group, we worked at it over a couple of years, meeting every week, discussing the impact (if any) the discipline had on our interactions, our soul development, on our hearts.

It’s impossible to spend a week preparing to have a day of silence, or observe Sabbath, or even a Wesleyan Fast without the effects spilling over into and even incorporating other family members into that practice. Over the next year then as I moved from experiment to practice some became weekly or monthly rituals that included my kids. While that was seven years ago, some of these disciplines still are part of my practice and that of my kids’.

This past week, my daughter spent a day in silence. School is back in session, so I’m sure she still had to participate during class, but the rest of the day, with friends and once she was back at home she had written on her hand “I’m spending today in silence” to show people that tried to engage her in conversation.

I remember when I went through that exercise. I had actually had a day off, so I limited my contact witFullSizeRender (27)h lots of people. Really I just had to interact with family and respond to emails. But even then, not talking for 24 hours was a difficult task. In the end, I internalized that there are many things that take place in life that don’t require my input. I’m important, but not vital as the world kept spinning without needing my perspective.

Her reflections on the day included her saying that “words don’t mean as much as they used to. People talk all the time.” She said she wanted to be more aware of what was happening around her at school, at work, and at home. Friends and colleagues met her first effort with some skepticism, so she’s planning on incorporating it into a monthly practice, at her own behest.

While I went through the practices with my children as I went through them, I didn’t anticipate they would take hold of their lives as it did in mine. They continue to observe Sabbaths and other rituals, as my daughter’s experience from last week showed. What will be the long-term impact on their lives? I can’t say, but I offer Paul’s prayer in Colossians that God gives them wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works (Colossians 1).