Silence

I spent this last weekend at a silent retreat–one that Charlie and I facilitate every year. People’s initial reactions to the idea range from “Oh, that’s great!” to “I could never be still that long!”

And yet so many of us long for silence…but there’s always too much “stuff” that gets in the way.

At this retreat, we chatter away as we gather on Friday night. Someone made the comment this weekend that it’s like a family reunion–and in many ways it is. Some of the folks have been coming for each of the last ten years. But our family continues to grow as well–slowly sometimes, but this year we had six new people.

We go into silence with a worship Friday night–led into it the last couple of years by playing on the Native American flute.

And Saturday is all day in silence. It is surprising how much interaction can still go on–and in many ways, how much deeper the interaction is. We listen to nature…to ourselves…and to God. Sometimes it takes a while to get to that final step of listening–we like to hear ourselves talk too much!

Sunday morning we share in a personal Communion with God. Each person receives the bread and wine (grape juice) when they are ready, and they share it in their special place when they are ready.

And then we come out of silence–again with the playing of the Native flute. That is one of the hardest parts of the weekend–breaking the silence, even though we haven’t been in it all that long. But it’s been such an opportunity to get away from all the distractions that normally keep us from listening to what we really want to hear.

And even those who come in fear, wondering if they can survive the weekend, or those whose friends laugh when they say that they are coming to a silent retreat find themselves leaving with new friends, with an attitude of “I can do this!”–and usually are back the next year.

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