Welcome back to the Lent retreat! My name is Ryian, and I am your host and MC. This is a retreat for those who aren’t able to get away, so throughout Lent, there will be talks, testimonies, and questions to help you reflect. If you prefer to listen instead of read, there is an audio format on the podcast, Ryian’s Coffee Shop!
During our time away, we have been working on our daily personal prayer and making a committed decision to put that into action. Today, our guest Kirby Hoberg from Under Thy Roof is going to be talking about quiet. Kirby is a Texas girl who now calls the Twin Cities home. She can be found homeschooling three little kids and fixing up a 19th century farmhouse by day – acting and dancing around the metro by night.
“Today I want to talk to you about quiet: how to cultivate it, it’s function in contemplative prayer, and how to get it if you’re not a cloistered contemplative nun.
First, and fundamentally, we need to understand what we mean by “quiet”. It can mean being in a silent room, maybe in front of the Blessed Sacrament, pouring your heart out to God and being open to his will.
I would guess many of us evaluate achieving quiet on the achieving a silent room criteria. I would like to propose that the interior position of being open and willing to hear and communicate fully with our beloved Jesus is truly what it means to achieve quiet. Physical silence is nice, but the silence that truly matters is a silencing of distraction from the will of God.
Here are some questions I ask myself when trying to discern how I’m doing with cultivating quiet:
- Am I feeling unduly anxious about something?
- Am I allowing rest into my day?
- Can I allow my children/spouse/co-workers, etc. more license to be independent of my oversight?
- Do I feel like I can have movement to follow God in my day or am I overly controlling of my environment?
- Can I be interruptible?
- What is working well?
- What is causing me disquiet?
- What needs to be lifted up for God because I lack the ability to do anything about it at this moment?
- What are three things I can do to address the disquiet in my life?
I have used these questions as journal prompts when doing my monthly evaluation of myself. Sometimes I use them on days when I feel the need to re-settle and re-adjust my choices or attitude.
One thing you might notice in this discussion so far is I am not talking about quiet or contemplation as a passive experience. I believe both are active states. They must be cultivated, grown, chosen in order to bloom.
Contemplation is why we make room for the blossoming of quiet. Contemplation is being open to the full will and direction of God in our lives.
It’s seeing the beauty all around us.
It’s perceiving things as they truly are and how they are meant to be.
Contemplation is fantastically realistic, optimistic, and honest.
It’s that interior conversation with God that enables us to bring forth our fullest gift of self to the world.
It’s important to remember that quiet and contemplation are not destinations in of themselves. They are good, and necessary, tools to better our walk with God. For many, if not most, of us, that walk is outside the walls of a cloistered convent. We are called to walk through the world.
Now there are many states of life that impact what quiet and contemplation looks like in our lives. What I want you to remember is that contemplation and quiet are something that are needed in all of our lives – regardless of what the externals of our days may be.
Here are four of those conundrum states of life that have personally applied to me.
For the busy person
There are many good, beautiful, and necessary things that draw our days into being busy. Being busy is not a bad thing, but letting it rob you of your interior quiet is not ok. I know how easy that can be. I’m a mother of three kids, a writer, an actress, a wife, and currently living out of a hotel room, with said three young children, due to a fire in our home.
I wrote up 7 ways I find quiet when I am in busy seasons. They are still useful tools for cultivating quiet – even in my current topsy-turvy circumstances.
- Morning time – just a little intentional space for prayer as a consistent part of my morning
- Evening pause – another prayer pause. I particularly love doing evening prayer here.
- Ending the 24 hour news cycle – I read a physical newspaper everyday. I get a daily afternoon email with the days headlines that I scan. Then I am done with my news consumption for the day. No more all day interruptions of breaking news.
- Tea time – that little afternoon ritual that brings me some calming quiet and allows me to reconnect
- Reading – I believe reading is an integral part of cultivating quiet, and a necessary part of self care.
- Fix what you can fix – if there’s a silly little thing that bothers you consistently, change it!
- Write it down – don’t give your mind the busy work that could be done by a planner, journal, or calendar.
For the extrovert
Where are my fellow Well Read Mom ladies at? This is the Year of the Contemplative. I joke that it might as well be called Year of the Introvert.
Contemplation is often thought of as something particularly open to the traits on an introvert – seeking rejuvenation in being alone.
As an extrovert, I’m here to tell you that we have our own special ways of finding contemplation. Maybe yours is more active (see Stations of the Cross for popular active contemplative prayer).
I find that I am most quiet – my mind is at rest, the internal dialog is silenced, and I am most open – when I am dancing. Even though there is music, and often other dancers. Maybe even an audience. My thoughts slow down, I move instinctually yet intentionally. I am both seeing everything and nothing all at once.
So look around and give yourself credit for the contemplative opportunities you have, even if they look different from what you might expect.
For the mom of littles
I want to tell everyone who is in the midst of parenting small children that this is not “just a season” but a real and valid part of your life. It is not a time to be endured, but a time to live! You can have quiet and contemplation in your life right now, but it might take some changes. My life changed when I stopped handing over power to a tyrannical two year old.
When I decided it was ok to ask my children to wait.
When I started resting during nap time instead of wasting time scrolling on my phone.
When I realized that I can make decisions about our life at home that work for us, but look different from the “right” way.
For the homeschooling mom
Not only do you likely still have littles home too, now there are big kids! With questions, needs, and probably no nap time. My oldest is only in first grade, so I’m still new to this homeschool mother role, but I have taken the opportunity to ask more experienced homeschool mothers what they wish they had changed, or would like to change, to bring more contemplation into their lives. The answers were eye opening for me.
They said they would learn more things for themselves – not just to teach their children. Because that would have better honored the mind that God gave them.
Taking the flexibility afforded by homeschooling to change what wasn’t working.
Remembering that bringing their faith and talents to the world often means leaving the house.
That they, personally, had the calling for sainthood. Not just to raise saints but to be one.
Let’s bring it all back to why we are bothering with all this introspection and cultivation of quiet and contemplation – to bring ourselves into a closer relationship with Jesus. To become saints. To better live out the will of God.
That can look very different from person to person – and it SHOULD. We were all created unique and unrepeatable.
Let’s find quiet and contemplation within our unique personalities, talents, and states of life.
Let’s allow for an openness to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit this Lent.”
Thank you so much, Kirby!
Today I learned that quietness isn’t exactly about having a quiet room, but having a quiet heart.