Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Big Silence

Caught the first episode of The Big Silence last night. The three part series follows the experience of five ordinary people as they are taught the value of silent meditation by Christopher Jamison, Abbot of Worth Abbey. The theme of the programmes can be summarised as:
Silence is the gateway to the soul, and the soul is the gateway to God.
silence The series got off to a good start with some interesting insights into the faith and spirituality of the participants. One of the most revealing, though not surprising, struggles for the group was the challenge to listen in silence for a few moments to the noises around them. Asking the group to listen to the sound of a candle flame was one thing, getting them to listen to the sound of the stars was a bit of a stretch.

Early on the group were asked to find 20 minutes in their daily life to practice silence and it was sobering to see how hard they found this. Then they were off to St Beuno’s Jesuit retreat house in North Wales for an eight day Ignatian retreat. The trailer for the second episode suggests this was going to be a real challenge, though it also hinted at some profound and life changing experiences.

The programme is produced by the people behind The Monastery, the excellent series following the experiences of another group of people engaging with the life of Worth Abbey and broadcast in 2005/6.

To be honest, I find silence difficult. It’s easy to fill the day with noise, from the radio first thing in the morning to the iPod while walking the dog. So I’m looking forward to the rest of the The Big Silence and reflecting on the place of silence in my own life. However, it’s half term this week and the kids are already tearing up the house so not much chance of silence at the moment.

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