This weekend I was scheduled to attend a silent retreat at a lakeside venue to gather my thoughts and put my mind in order as I approach the final month before deploying overseas.
The theme of the venue was that, “You cannot make a good retreat unless you are recollected, and you cannot be recollected unless you keep silence.”
As I prepared to go, my wife innocently inquired if four days away would really get me any closer to my objective than a few focused bursts while remaining at home with her?
This was coded language telling me my plan for extended solitude might not pass the common sense test...and that she was going to miss me...
So I adjusted fire and drove on in order to make it a win for both of us.
Of all the spiritual disciplines, silence is often the most difficult. Our brains are adapted to chaos and we fear silence. The vacuum of silence creates a cognitive discombobulation for most of us.
The Rule of Saint Benedict stresses that “the disciple’s part is to be silent and to listen” (Rule, 6). Silence is critical in learning to be attentive to God. Though Jesus lived the perfect life, he still needed to get away to spend time with the Father.
Henri Nouwen wrote that “without solitude it is almost impossible to live a spiritual life.” Psalm 37:7, commands us to “be still before the lord and wait patiently for him.”
Waiting for (or eagerly seeking) God while practicing silence ushers us into His presence and His rest. This is a good and meaningful practice that does not happen without intentionality.
So I chose to put on noise cancelling headphones, pipe in some white noise via bluetooth, and spent time praying, reflecting, writing, and offering thanks that God is present with me wherever I go, leading me, guiding me, and giving me peace.
LEADER PRAYER: God, may I be still and know with confidence that you are God. Amidst the noise, distractions, and symphony of stress, please be with me so I may serve you, and you alone. Amen.