I spent last weekend at our annual silent retreat. We initially were going to cancel this year’s because of a major denominational event that ended two weeks earlier, but there were a number of folks who wanted us to go ahead with it…and I’m glad we did.
It’s really kind of fun when I tell people about the retreat–and then watch their eyes get big as they try to figure out how on earth can you spend a whole weekend in silence without getting bored! But there’s a lot that goes on…and a lot of nonverbal communication that is shared.
We worship together in silence…we eat together in silence (except for the clanging of the silverware on the trays)…we smile at each other and hug each other in silence…we share the Lord’s Supper in silence…and yet an incredible sense of community develops during that time.
And we find that we really kind of hate coming out of silence on Sunday morning. 🙂
I usually take 4-6 boxes of resources for folks to use / share during the weekend…we are able to take a portable labyrinth for folks to walk…there is a room set aside for personal prayer…we have about 6 hours set apart when we share in deep, intentional prayer for the prayer concerns shared with each other and placed in envelopes in the prayer room.
The biggest challenge often is getting folks to come in the first place–the thought of silence can be frightening, used as we are to so much ongoing noise in our world. And yet, it is only in silence that we can quiet ourselves enough to let God speak deep into our souls…to bring healing…to gain guidance.
There is so much validity to the statement by David in Psalms: “Be still and know that I am God.” In the silence of the weekend, we get to know God better…and we get to know ourselves better.
Thanks be to God!