I leave today for the Jesuit Retreat House in OshKosh, where I will be part of the team directing retreatants for a five-day silent directed retreat that will end Friday evening.
I always love my time at the retreat house. Located on the shore of Lake Winnebago, it offers a beautiful place to “come away and rest awhile.” The Chapel of the Sacred Heart, the “lightening” tree, the Chapel of the Annunciation, the nature trail, all offer balm to my soul. As with my old retreat house in New York, I feel my entire being both relax and lift in joy as soon as I drive onto the grounds.
And then there is the silence. The blessed silence. In the context of a Taize service, someone once shared this about silence:
When we try to express communion with God in words, our minds quickly come up short. But, in the depths of our being, through the Holy Spirit, Christ is praying far more than we imagine.
Although God never stops trying to communicate with us, this is never in order to impose. The voice of God is often heard only in a whisper, in a breath of silence. Remaining in silence in God’s presence, open to the Holy Spirit, is already prayer.
The road to contemplation is not one of achieving inner silence at all costs by following some technique that creates a kind of emptiness within. If, instead, with a childlike trust we let Christ pray silently within us, then one day we shall discover that the depths of our being are inhabited by a Presence.
Whether on retreat or not, find a way to give yourself the gift of silence.