6 Minutes of Silence in Relief Society

When I taught Relief Society last Sunday, we spent several minutes of the lesson in complete silence.

I was assigned a General Conference talk to base my lesson on. I wanted each class member to have a personal experience during the lesson with the topic of knowing Christ. And since I write for my day job and I write as a hobby, and I tend to think the solution to everything is writing, that’s what we did.

At a few points throughout the lesson, I invited the sisters to write silently for a certain amount of time. It yielded some useful results for me, so I thought I’d share it here with you.

(This post will publish on the Saturday of General Conference. If you’re committed to watching the talks but your attention wanes, consider using a talk’s topic as a prompt and write your personal thoughts, using these guidelines.)

The writing prompt guidelines:

  • Set the timer beforehand of how long to write.
  • Move your pen across the paper without stopping for the amount of time prescribed.
  • If you’re not sure what to write, you can write, I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write. Eventually, your brain will get bored and pop out something more interesting.
  • No erasing or crossing out. You are writing, not editing (which can be easier if you remember that this isn’t for anyone but you).

The writing prompts we used:

1. Make a list of everything you did in the last week. (As many as you can in 1 minute)

We did this in our class because it started our brains off in an easy space. After making our list, we read Matthew 7:21-23

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

We talked about how many of our lists include responsibilities, including things we might do for the Lord. As Mormon women, we may have many wonderful works on our lists. What’s vital is to do the will of the Father and come to know Christ.

2. Circle one activity on your list that helped you know Christ better. (5 seconds)

It could be an obvious church answer, such as reading scriptures. Or something less obvious, such as nursing a baby or going on a hike. If you don’t have a moment of spiritual connection, circle an activity that seems like you could make meaning of it now, looking back.

3. With that activity in mind, write:
How do I personally come to know Christ better? (2 min)

It’s surprising how long or short two minutes can feel, depending on what you’re writing.

After this exercise during the lesson, we heard women’s stories. I loved hearing how our spiritual experience can be bound up in the everyday. We can make meaning out of our daily tasks, making life fuller, brighter, and more full of joy.

We went back to Matthew 7:21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” 

We spent a moment talking about the will of the Father for everyone (John 6:40), and then we dug into what I hoped would be the practical, personal part of our writing exercises.

4. Write: What is the Father’s will for ME this week? (3 min)

If you actually try any of the prompts in this blog post, do this one. I don’t know if it will be useful to you without the context of the lesson and the surrounding discussion. But this prompt yielded personal insights for me, and based on some of the teary faces in the room, I think it may have been useful for some sisters in our class.

I obviously don’t know everything that my fellow sisters found in their moments of silence that day. But one sister shared her insight that the first prompt felt like a list of to-do’s and obligations—the last last one did not.

(Image by Steven Depolo)


Kathy is a writer living in Phoenix, AZ.

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7 Responses

  1. spunky says:

    This is beautiful, thank you.

  2. Ziff says:

    Wow, what a great idea! Thanks for sharing this, Kathy! I haven’t had a teaching calling for years, but if I ever do again, I think I’ll try something like this.

  3. This sounds like such a nice change of pace for Relief Society. I think we have some good writing activity ideas in some of our Young Women lesson plans here at the website, too. Not everyone loved discussion, so a writing activity is a nice way to vary class for those with different preferences.

    • Kathy says:

      Agreed. I think an activity like this can be supportive for those class members who may feel more comfortable participating after they’ve had a few extra moments to collect their thoughts.

  4. Olea says:

    Kathy, I love this. I wonder if my primary kids would appreciate something like this (with drawing as an option, of course).

    I definitely want to try this myself, and it’s funny how it feels more useful/necessary this week when I don’t know where I’ll be able to fit in 6 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Thank you for posting this 🙂

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