Steve Tilley opens up his own home for Quiet Days. He has now held 50 of them and is building a regular community for the monthly gathering.
One of the key skills for the missional practitioner in deciding what you can do is to see what you have got. What are the resources?
I moved to Nailsea in September 2006. As a city kid the first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. One night, soon after moving, I woke up and thought I'd missed the Second Coming. Where was the background buzz, frisking me with signs of life?
Some weeks later I unintentionally scared some poor woman by being on the same footpath as her in the day-time. She was accustomed to an undisturbed walk.
By January 2007 I put two and two together. All the busy people, who dashed off to Bristol to work or to school locally, left my estate deserted. I wondered. Would some people like to share my quiet?
I have a big house which I keep clean and tidy, empty by day apart from me, a nice garden and access to open countryside.
I invited some folk to join me and the introductory letter said:
Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a series of quiet days here. As it is the first you are, to some intent, being experimented upon. Please let me have any feedback which will help me improve it.
Help yourself to coffee, tea, juice, biscuits, fruit or cake at any time of the day.
In the quiet times find space in the house wherever you can. There are two bedrooms available upstairs for privacy (sleep if you want). I have left the doors closed on rooms I would prefer you not to use. If you use a bedroom just close the door to indicate it's in use. Leave the door open when you leave. There is a toilet by the front door and another upstairs.
The front door will be on the latch all day. Go straight on down the road opposite to reach open countryside or wander the pavements and pathways. The programme will be as follows:
10.00 Coffee and chat
10.30 Introduction, Prayer, Bible Study
11.15 Quiet to think, pray, walk
13.00 Lunch together
14.00 Bible Study and chance to share
15.00 Tea and finish
I will indicate the end of quiet by putting some music on.
Please do not try to engage in conversation in the house during the quiet, however weird that may feel. You have permission to ignore each other. If two people feel they must talk then go for a walk together. I will be in my study (off the kitchen) in the quiet if you need anything. Talking to me is fine. Books and Bibles to borrow are on the conservatory table. I have no further appointments today. Stay to debrief if you wish.
Hope you enjoy it.
Six people joined me that first time and I have never cancelled. We recently celebrated our 50th Quiet Day and I was fully booked (12 guests is full). One guest sees it as her church and goes to no other organised Christian event. Others will take a day off work to join in. Some come most months; others occasionally.
The programme remains unaltered though I do now ask for donations towards the cost of lunch.
In a busy world people are longing for space to read, think or pray. In a day of quiet you can hear the voice of the One who first spoke into it. That is what my guests say.