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VermeerHallo again to all.

We've been preparing for Advent this week—far, far in advance, we know, but this time for a good reason. We'll be participating this year in a series of quiet days, and a friend mentioned recently that she had never heard of the phenomenon. They had never seemed peculiarly Anglican things, but it seems that they may well be.

Quiet days are times for being apart in the midst of busyness and controversy. They take various formats, with a general location in Advent or Lent as seasons of deepened devotion. In our experience, they either begin or end with a celebration of Holy Communion, and one brings a sandwich or has a catered light luncheon before departing into the world somehow refreshed or informed by a mini retreat. They may be structured around the singing of hymns or the offering of meditations by a person who has knowledge of our spiritual traditions in scripture, song, or poetry. They always take place in the daytime, usually in a parish church, and not overnight.

However they are built, quiet days strengthen us by taking us out of the noise most of us know on our streets, in our workplaces, perhaps in our homes, and in our news cycles. We turn off our devices. We listen to words, but we listen mostly to the still small voice of calm in which God speaks just as often as through earthquake, wind, and fire. Listening is not a skill we teach our children—particularly not our boys and men—and it is not a skill we teach to adults as a necessary Christian discipline. Some of the results are the chaotic conversations we find ourselves sharing across political divides inside or outside the Church, around cultural matters in dispute, and particularly in connection with our inability to manage intelligent civil discourse in a multitude of settings.

We need the skill of real listening, of believing our interlocutors, of being able to sit in silence together without the need for words or brash actions to fill it up.

There is no reason why quiet days should be in the particular spiritual purview of Anglicans. Anyone can set aside a day of six hours of a Saturday with a gentle guide through sabbath time and a pot of soup with a few loaves of bread. The model is easy to duplicate, and at least one diocese (Bath and Wells) has a fine guide on how to do it.

If we wish to change the world—and recent weeks have given us good reason to believe that there are things that need changing—then it must be done one heart at a time. The hearts we have to change are our own, over and over. If quiet days are one small tool in the box of reorienting ourselves first to God, and then to love of neighbour, we hope they will fill our parish calendars inside and outside of Advent and Lent. Our Christian maturity—and the quiet in which it can be formed so deliberately—are gifts for which the world is desperate, and we would do well to open the doors to share it early and often.

See you next week.

Our Signatures

Richard Mammana


All of us at Anglicans Online

30 September 2018

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