The Other Side
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” – Mark 4:35 (NRSV)
Once upon a time, someone convinced me to join her on a [dreaded] silent retreat. I was at my wit’s end—what with the endless noise around me—so I begrudgingly agreed.
I wish I could tell you that as soon as I stepped foot on the lush grounds of the center and put my duffel bag down on that humble twin mattress and looked out the window and smelled the freshly cut grass and beheld the perfectly tended gardens that something in me started to get it.
But I didn’t. The silence felt loud and oppressive.
But God told me to give it time. To give it a minute.
And in the silence, I realized that my day-to-day mind and I are well-acquainted. But the soft part, the quiet part, the part that needs permission to say things? It only started to ask, “May I have a turn now?” in the silence.
It had things to say, like: Can we go ahead and talk about this thing you’ve boxed over here? Can we open the box? See it? Surround it with light? Hand it over to God? Because I’m tired of sitting on this box and holding down the lid. It takes so much out of me. Out of you. In the silence, we can open it together.
All of this happened in the very silence I dreaded.
Jesus would often take a moment to “get to the other side.” And I’d submit to you that this is a crucial spiritual discipline.
My invitation to you is this: take the time to retreat to the other side. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. But find your space for silence. Even if that sounds impossible or like the worst thing in the world. If you follow Jesus, you follow what he did.
Let the silent healers within you speak.
Thank you forming my inmost parts, O God. Thank you for healing me. Selah.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.