What's Your Chair?

For a special project, I'm reading a book called A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation.


I love the picture on the front. A gentle woman leaning in the shadows, arm on a book, quiet. I love the idea of silence and solitude (you know I do).

The book encourages us to choose a prayer chair on which to practice our silent moments ("quite googleable and not especially inexpensive"). I am wondering: couldn't a red sled do?

It also occurs to me that all of the examples so far, of successful contemplatives, were monks and nuns (and of course Jesus in the Wilderness). I wonder if these people were naturally introverted and drawn to the idea of silence. I have little doubt that they were childless.

I'm not judging the book yet (by its cover or anything else :), but I simply want to say that I truly wonder where the extrovert fits in a life of faith, where the woman with a few children hanging on her arms can find silence and solitude. I found some outdoors for a year, but it wasn't quite what the book I'm reading seems to have in mind.

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Blogger Maureen said...

The discovery in contemplative silence is how much noise it holds.

One of the best books I've read on the subject is Sara Maitland's A Book of Silence.

Anonymous kingfisher said...

Of course a red sled will do! Or a comfy bed. Why does one have to have a special chair, a special room, in which to pray and be contemplative. The only reason I can think of is, a deliberate intent to get away from distractions: kids, doing dishes, wondering about finances... But maybe some of us can do our meditating anywhere. God will be there even if we don't "feel" him. I'm glad he values the intent of our hearts more than our "set-ups" and physical niches.

But then, I'm an introvert, and not only must have lots of silences, but hope to make creative-space for silence -- and noticing God -- in all activities.

Perhaps, though you're an extrovert, you're suffering from the same malady I often encounter -- just too many words out there. Too many advices! Well meaning words, words that have helped other people, but the proliferation can add to our guilt or worry that we aren't doing right for/by God. We're not doing things in the right time or place. So many words to process these days! Don't you think they can often add to our sensory-overload/ noise pollution? We, as Christians, are told we ought to, should, must, do (or not do) this or that or the other.

Oh, may the Holy Spirit guide and comfort us, and lead us in HIS way of eternal life in Christ.

Anonymous Charity Singleton said...

I love this question. It's so intriguing that the opposite question has been asked about introverts and the American church. Ironically, I think that's why many extroverts find their place at church - maybe it's an extroverted way to practice faith. Looking forward to hearing more thoughts about this book.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I relate with you very much. With five young children, I rarely find moments of silence. And then when I do, the silence can be deafening. Although I long for those moments, the absence of noise and action around me can be a little unnerving. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else.

For me, rather than taking chunks of "set apart" time to be with God, I'm slowly learing to "Practice the Presence of God," as described in the book of Brother Lawrence's words. It's the idea of being aware of God presence all of the time and doing everything to his glory, whether mundane or special. He said that when he could do that, he didn't require a lot of "alloted for prayer" time, because he was in communication with God constantly.


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