Monday, March 1, 2010

Entering the Silence

This past weekend I was priviledged to be able to take time away on retreat at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, Pennsylvania.My weekend was one of directed silent retreat. Over the next several days I plan to share about my experience. For those who know me, some were dubious when I pronounced I was going to engage in a weekend long silent retreat. Frankly so was I, and yet I was drawn to the opportunity.
In the weeks leading up to my time away, I began to wonder if I was over-reaching. Even joking about how when I cracked up and couldn't take it anymore that conveniently there is a state mental hospital nearby. The day came and the weather was not cooperating- which in these parts lately means- snow. Early in the day the call came that the roads were slick and if I wanted to come they would welcome me and if I wanted to not travel they understood. And in that message I had a profound sense of sadness for the potential that I was not going to go. I recognized that I truly desired this. I decided to wait and see how the weather played out in the hours before I would need to leave. After all of the tempestuous winds, squalls, drifting and ominous forecasting, I was able to follow the fine work of plows and salting. My journey was uneventful. And within an hour of my arrival the snow began again.
Before entering the house, I spent a few minutes listening to "O Lord Hear My Prayer" and prayed that I would be able to set aside all of the busy-ness, to call upon God to meet me and embrace me in this time apart, to enter into God's presence and listen. I heard a lone bird chirping and the wind begin to rustle.
Listen. Enter into a place where you cannot give words but only receive them. Enter this space where there is humility of purpose.

When I entered my room there was a paper on the desk with words from author Joyce Rupp in her book, Open the Door, a Journey to the True Self. Contemplating Luke 11:9, she offers this:
"What is it we are to ask for when we come to the divine door and knock?
Jesus encourages his followers to be deliberate about searching and requesting. He promises they will find what they are seeking. The assumption has been made by many that Jesus is talking about intercessory prayer, the container of those big and little things we petition God for each day...perhaps this is so.
But could it also be that Jesus was speaking not so much about our external world as our internal one? Could he have meant knocking and searching for what will enhance the relationship of love that flows between God and ourselves?
Are we to knock on the door and ask for what enriches this bond?
What will transform us into our truest selves, our firmest faithfulness, our deepest joy?
Perhaps our petitions at God's door might become not so much "What can you do for me?" as
"Who can you be for me?"
There is so much the Holy One can be for us:
the mentor of our loving
the source of our courage
the keeper of our troubles
the teacher of our prayer
the guide of our pathway
the nurturer of our virtue
the companion of our soul."

A walk in the snow, a meal (the last one with talking) and evening prayer. Then enter the silence- enter again conversation that God and I have been having lately.


Gannet Girl said...

I am so excited for you! How I hope to go on retreat at Wernersville some day!

I don't know whether you read her, but the RevGal who blogs at Quantum Theology frequently writes about Wernersville.

Law+Gospel said...

GG- I thought of you when I made the decision to go- in fact I may never have done so had it not been for following your story-:)
When asked what made me come, I actually said it all started with someone's blog that got me thinking. Thanks for that and the ref to QT- will check it out!

Michelle said...

I love the B/W photos!

Michelle of Quantum Theology....