IF you’ve given something up for Lent then I hope after three weeks you’re managing to stick to your resolve. Giving something up at this time of year helps us to recall Jesus’ temptations in the desert, but each year I try to remind myself of the key fact that Jesus’ withdrawal there was essentially about making time to be with God.

One of the besetting challenges of the world we live in is its strident busyness. It’s very difficult to make time for God in our lives when we’re hurtling through the week with a long list of things to do. I’m not knocking lists, mind you. As a list person I find it’s the only way I make sure things don’t slip through the cracks. But, I do know that I need to lay the list down from time to time and seek some quiet and stillness.

There’s a long tradition in the Christian Church of seeking time out in this way, such as the early mystics in Egypt known as the ‘desert fathers’, or closer to home St Cuthbert retreating to a cell on the Farne islands. Ezekiel famously found God not in the wind, nor the earthquake nor fire, but in the small voice of calm. That last phrase is difficult to translate from Hebrew, and one translation describes this as the sound of sheer silence.

So, in taking time out, to be quiet and to be still, I find myself experiencing afresh the truth shared by a very famous medieval theologian who wrote that ‘nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness’.

The Rev Michael Jackson

Vicar of St Michael the Archangel, Kirkby in Malhamdale