The sound of silence…

Last weekend was our silent retreat–an event we’ve been facilitating for 11 years. So what is a silent retreat? Just what it says…

We gather together at a church campgrounds in the countryside on Friday night…talk about the weekend schedule and what silence means…then go into silence with a worship. We spend all day Saturday in silence…there are scheduled activities (worship/prayer vigil) that are done in community in silence–but if people feel led/called to spend that time in some other way, that’s okay too. Sunday morning we gather back together…still in silence…have the opportunity to share personally in the Lord’s Supper…then when all who wish to have shared, we gather back together to be brought out of silence with a worship…and then share whatever people choose to share before lunch and leaving.

It’s an oasis of opportunity to spend intentional time with God…in prayer, meditation, worship…

There are a core group of people who look forward to having this quiet time every year. I know I need it in order to refocus and re-center.

And we do connect with each other. There is an incredible amount of communication and connection that takes place without words…

But this year I became aware as well that the sound of silence is not always friendly. We had a young woman at the retreat for whom silence became scary and lonely. She had thought she could handle it, but she needed to come to talk with us about some of her issues…to ask us to pray with/for her.

Silence makes us face ourselves…the issues that we can hold at bay with conversation/work/other activities. Sometimes that’s easier than others. Sometimes it’s scary–because it calls us into new pathways, directions we may not want to go because we don’t know what lies ahead.

I was reminded of some of the words from Simon & Garfunkel’s hit song “The Sound of Silence”…

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

As the song continues, the sound of silence is not necessarily positive…

But it can be…

The sounds of silence…an opportunity to listen to myself…an opportunity to listen to God.

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