Today, we end our series called, From Screens to Stillness. In it, we have looked at the challenges we face today that keep us from silence and contemplative prayer, explored the gift of technology in our spiritual lives, and also ways for us to embrace stillness and silence in this age of screens. In our final week of our series, Screens to Stillness, we turn to the value of unplugging.
In my twenty-three years of retreat ministry, I witness the gift of unplugging frequently. On days of reflection, full weekend silent retreats, and on longer silent five to eight day silent retreats, I watch as people give themselves permission to unplug, to disengage from screens, to get still, and to be silent. The silence and stillness creates a clearing in their lives. It creates space to not only meet God personally and intimately but also to truly hear God.
I know the value of this personally as I annually make an 7-8 day silent retreat. The stillness within does not always come quickly as I enter the retreat, especially if I am entering the retreat after a very busy season or a season of attachment to too many screens. It might take me two to three days before the silence and stillness really embrace me and wrap me in a way that creates stillness within. Eventually it comes, though, and just like I witness happen to other people, I am able to enter a clearing within my inner chapel... a time to deeply listen to God and to be filled by all that God seeks to pour into me.
What this time of unplugging does for me is hard to articulate into words. Those days of silence to intimately be with God change my life and carry me through my year until I retreat away again. The time to unplug is something that my husband understands as well. He, too, makes a silent retreat every year, normally a three to five day one. I see the change in him when he returns, as he does me. I witness the transformation that happens in him like I do in my retreat work. God radically meets us in the silence and that encounter changes us.
If we are honest, I don’t feel we should be surprised at the value of retreating away to give ourselves the gift of unplugged time with God. Jesus models it over and over again in scripture. We see him taking time away from the crowds, from ministry, and from the noise to go and be with God. He retreats into silence in the desert for forty days. He climbs mountains to pray. We see him gain clarity when he comes down from the mountain. A clear focus of his mission, renewed. One mountain climb into the stillness he is transfigured. He crosses the sea to find time to be with God.
Jesus let prayer, time to be still, and one-on-one time with God anchor his life. Short increments of stillness and silence and longer ones helped him sustain his calls in life.
It’s a gift I wish everyone would give themselves. Time away to simply be with God. Perhaps, it means putting down the screen to unplug for a few minutes each day of stillness and silence in your inner chapel to be with God. Perhaps, it’s using one of the gifts of the screen that we talked about last week to be fed and nourished in your stillness. Maybe even, its unplugging for a whole day, weekend, or week. Whatever way you are being called to be still and know God, I urge you to embrace it. The stillness and silence with God will transform your entire life.
In what way am I being called to be still and know God? Am I being called to go on a retreat or day of reflection? Is it a call to decrease my screen time to go to my inner chapel? Is it a call to use some of the prayer supports that screens can provide to lead me to stillness? How can I embrace these invitations and move from screens to stillness?
- If you’d like to go on a retreat, here’s a list of the Jesuit Retreat Centers in the United States
- Check out Becky’s speaking & retreat list to attend an in person retreat with Becky
- Make a one-on-one retreat online with a spiritual director during our Lenten Online Busy Person Retreat, coming up March 16-19.
- Register for my new online retreat that brings the preached retreat experience to your email with content sent weekly for you to work through individually, on your own schedule, giving you resources to help you find stillness and build a prayer practice, “Overwhelmed No More: 6 Ways to Discover and Live God’s Vision for Your Life”.
Inviting you Deeper as We Walk with Christ:
- I’ll be at RECongress in Los Angeles!! February 21-23, 2020. I am thrilled to be part of the presentation, Start with Jesus, in the Arena and the workshop, The Gift of the Inner Chapel.
- Calling all my Southern Louisiana ladies! March 10, 2020: Women of the Well Lenten Evening of Reflection “Clearing the Path: Simplifying the Road to Christ”
- Online Busy Person’s Retreat: This special Lenten edition is coming March 16-19, 2020.
- My second book, “The Inner Chapel: Embracing the Promises of God” is coming in April! Pre-order here and watch your email for a special invitation in the next few weeks to be on my Book Launch Team.
- Sign up for my Prayer Team and pledge to pray for the weekly prayer requests posted on my Facebook & Instagram, and for the attendees of upcoming events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.