Spiritual Practice

Silence Under the Surface

Devin Wieland

Trying Not to Panic

I sat, sweating and uncomfortable, in the back row of the van. I kept asking myself why I had agreed to do this. They had promised that the experience would draw me closer to God, but I had yet to see the evidence.

Four hours later, we unloaded the church van and enjoyed our last few gulps of fresh air. A short hike through the forest brought us to the opening of Buckner Cave, a gaping black hole carved into the side of a hill.

Jeff, our seemingly fearless leader, went into the cave without hesitating. Standing on the threshold, I turned for one last look at the fall sky. Then I entered the cave and said goodbye to sunlight, fresh smells, and cool breezes.

My first steps into the cave were cautious as I became acclimated to the damp slate beneath my feet. The daylight diminished with each step until it was gone altogether. The darkness inside the cave was smothering. I switched on my headlamp; its narrow beam showed smooth, shimmering rock on all sides.


The Quiet Place

desert cave Ftr TSP 516395619Before long, we were on our stomachs, squeezing through small spaces. We squirmed, wriggled, and crawled for what seemed like miles. I became more fearful as I lost my sense of direction. Eventually, we emerged from a small tunnel into a wider space.

Jeff asked us to form a circle. Headlamps went off; and we sat, separated from the outside world by solid rock walls hundreds of feet thick. The silence in the cave was tangible.

Finally, Jeff’s voice broke the silence. “God created this cave. Even here, God hears our prayers.”

Those words set my mind reeling. We stayed quiet for a while, feeling the silence wash over us and directing our thoughts to God. Sitting in that circle, I sensed a deeper meaning in the darkness and quiet. By leaving behind my usual routine and finding this place of ultimate quiet, I had found God—or rather, I realized that God had never left me.


silence in cave2 TSP 78806397Seeking Silence

In time, we emerged into the daylight. With the sun still shining, it seemed as though no time had passed. Looking back at the yawning entrance of the cave, I now felt a sense of attraction rather than fear. I worried that I would never find a place as quiet and pure as the space deep within the cave.

On the way home, after the sun had set and most of the group was asleep, I closed my eyes and imagined that I was back in the cave. The murky smell did not return, and no wet rock spread beneath my feet; but I felt myself drawing closer to God.

I returned from that trip with new motivation to meet God in quiet places. Whether journeying under the surface of the earth or stilling my restless mind, I can always find God in the silence.



Where can I go from your Spirit?
Read Psalm 139:7-12.

Are you accustomed to background noise? Do you fear complete silence? This week, find a place or a memory in which you can be quiet. Then practice turning to silence as a way of putting aside everyday concerns and drawing closer to God.

Devin Wieland is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and studied professional writing at Taylor University Fort Wayne.

—from devozine (March/April 2008). Copyright © 2008 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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