The Gate of Heaven is Everywhere! Episode 8: Silence, by William Thiele

Self-compassion group

One reason Sabbath is so hard for many of us is because we are uncomfortable with silence. Sabbath does not require silence, but cultivating inner stillness is surely enhanced by periods of silence. Practices like eating meditation, walking meditation, yoga, and siting meditation involve refraining from speaking so that we can simply be present. And each of those practices can include awareness of the presence of God within and around us. Remembering the Sabbath has been a way people of faith remember whose we are for thousands of years.

Rachel Naomi Remen writes that “Silence is God’s lap.”[1] And there have been many times when her lap image fit my experience. Many silences are comforting, calming, soothing, reassuring, and consoling, just like sitting in God’s lap. And Sabbath is surely a time for the same. In such a Sabbath, we might find what we are most deeply seeking, a True Home in the lap of God. If we can endure the discomforts of vulnerably being silent, if we can risk facing whatever arises from within, and if we can hold space for the sacred right there in those silences, we just might find our deepest fulfillment in the lap of God.

There are a multitude of silent practices, mini Sabbaths if you will, which can help you locate a gate of heaven. Do not limit yourself to what you think to be traditional contemplative practices, like sitting in silence. Yes, that works for some of us, but there is so much more. Draw, garden, roller skate, nap, (yes, a nap can be dedicated to God as you honor your need for rest), and let your imagination guide you. Remember that Brother Lawrence even practiced God’s presence as he washed dishes. Your job is to experiment until you find what works best for you. Where can you best settle into a silent Sabbath and dedicate your moments to the practice of the presence of God?

Start today. Try a practice in silence right now, as I am about to do. If it does not turn out to be perfect, oh well. Keep practicing. Keep experimenting. Ask others what helps them experience a silent Sabbath time. It could be as simple as lighting a candle and quietly staring at it for a few moments. Silence might be more meaningful for you when alone or in community. If it helps, ask others to practice silence with you. Find your way by starting now. And then begin again.

[1] Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings, 164.


About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through; and of a blog on, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (, adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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