I love silent retreats. Usually there are people who attend who have experienced the great quiet before and are hungry for more. And then there are people who are there for the first time. They usually express some trepidation about what is going to happen. Questions like, what do I do and am I going to be bored arise. But then there is the anxiety about the unknown that is about to be embarked upon that can be seen in their eyes.
Many of us are used to the clutter and white noise that surrounds so much of society. When it’s gone, it is noticeable and a foreign feeling. We are so used to chatter of one sort or another filling our time and ears.
But, as John of the Cross says, silence is God’s first language.
I think it’s a matter of perspective. When I am introducing a silent retreat, I explain that the silence is not a time of doing without. It is not a time of not talking, it is a time of listening. It is a time of making space for the richness, the fullness that the Holy has to offer.
The silence is a place to deeply listen, fall back into it. Listen to the rustle of leaves, the exhale, the still small voice where we can hear God. Silence is a place of creation, a place of letting go, of emptying ourselves from clutter, of filling up with abundance.
In the silence we can come home to the fullness and richness where we can begin to feel it is safe to open up to your true selves. It is a place where we can be instead of focusing on doing.
There are times in my life that I actually hunger for the Holy Silence. When the world is too much, when the stress and strain ratio is too high, then there is nothing as healing as an extended, deep silence. Ahhh….what a relief!
“There is a huge silence inside each of us that beckons us into itself, and the recovery of our own silence can begin to teach us the language of heaven.”–Meister Eckhart
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