Where not to have a Quiet Day


tumblr_static_calm-lake-107227You do still have them in your diary, don’t you? Those regular pauses in your ministry life that make it possible to breathe, sink in God’s Word, and regroup your plans.

Once a month, perhaps, taking a couple of hours for you, a Bible and a notebook.

Once a quarter, perhaps, taking a day for your, your Bible, your notebook, and your plans for the year to see how you’re doing.

And maybe a day or two in the quieter times in the summer to do some serious thinking.

But where do you go? Some people go to regular conference centres, though the costs mount up. Cheap hotels can be bit seedy. Spiritual retreat centres can be a lovely for some; a bit inward looking for others. Staying with friends, perhaps.

Having just had a Quiet Day myself, I’ve discovered where I never, ever want to have a Quiet Day. It’s nothing to do with being in the country, or away from people, or by the sea, mountains or a lake. Noise and people do not make a place distracting. The most distracting place for me, is anywhere with wi-fi.

Which, given that I live in the twenty-first century, is pretty much most of the planet that I could access.

Here’s what I do when I really need space for thinking. I give all my internet enabled equipment to someone else. Phone, iPad, everything. If I’m in a room I physically remove any cable that makes wi-fi or internet access possible. I give them to someone I trust, and ask them not to give them back to me. If anyone needs to contact me, that person can handle my calls.

Why has this happened? Our brains have a gazillion thoughts a second, and one of the weirdnesses of the web is that we can act on any of them. I must contact Matt! What is the name of that weird fish I saw on TV last night? I need to choose a Bible passage for that CU meeting. Remember to buy milk! And in order to be productive, we’ve utilised digital tools. Forget the weird fish thing, but my diary, planner, lists, contacts, Bible, books I’m reading, are all often on the same device, tempting me to flick and flick and flick.

That’s really helpful in many contexts, but not when I need to focus.

Now, most of us have the self control to switch off for an hour or two. But a whole Quiet Day offline is a bigger issue.

In order to be productive, I have to ditch the tools that make me productive.

That takes planning. So if I want my diary I need to arrange to print it out beforehand. I need notebooks and pens and pencils, because I’m going to a land where there is no Evernote or Nozbe. I need to be able to record those fleeting ideas, and yes, later I’ll make them digital.

But for my Quiet Days I need to be off the cloud.  Where do you go?


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11 comments on “Where not to have a Quiet Day”

  1. Quiet days are difficult with little kids running around the place, but I take the point.
    I (and my family) would benefit most from WiFi/3G free evenings. If you do see me online after 10pm tell me to switch off 🙂

  2. Totally agreed – I even turn wifi off sometimes for sermon prep, but definitely wouldn’t take anything with internet access away on a quiet day. If I’m going away for a few days (e.g. retreat centre), I might, but I’d leave it in my room most of the time.

    1. Thanks, John. It’s a meter of helping my self control – And removing the physical cable is often what I have to do in my own study in order to write.

    1. Not sure about the wisdom, Mark, but it’s a way of avoiding my weakness. I’ve also discovered the value of a very old laptop with a removeable wifi card!

  3. One of the many reasons I love to stay at Lee Abbey in Devon; no wifi or mobile signal. It is also a very beautiful place and full of lovely people!

  4. One of the reasons why I love to stay at Lee Abbey in Devon- no wifi or mobile signal. It is also a very beautiful place and full of lovely people!

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