We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…. We need silence to be able to touch souls.
You can hear the footsteps of God when silence reigns in the mind.
~Sri Sathya Sai Baba
I just returned from our annual silent retreat…a weekend of silence.
Some of my friends panic at the thought of spending that much time in silence. “What do you do?” “You mean, you don’t talk at all??”
While there are opportunities for doing several things during the weekend, more important for me is the opportunity to be and be with…to spend intentional quiet time with God…to turn off my internal “have to do” list and let my prayers move from monologues to conversations.
I am a Type A personality, so sometimes this is hard for me. It takes me several hours before my mind quits running through everything I’ve left behind (and that will be waiting for me when I get back)…to let go of my agenda, and let the weekend with God be what God wants it to be.
Sometimes I feel God in the breeze that blows… Sometimes I see God in a small violet flower…in the stillness of the lake…in the beauty of a flying goose…in the faces of my fellow retreat companions. Sometimes I hear God in the calls of the birds…in the sound of the thunder…
And sometimes I sense God sharing with me in words that I can understand—words that I might not hear under “normal” circumstances because there is too much noise, both external and internal.
When I come back home, I promise both God and myself that I will take more intentional quiet time to spend together. And for a while I do. But then the call of work, family…and the thousand other “to-do’s” sound their siren call, and I let the noise build up again.
Some year—this year—I will change! I will take that time so that when next year’s retreat comes around, it won’t be a “Whew! It’s time to slow down again!” kind of moment….but it will be an opportunity to extend what I am already doing.
Silence is like a river of grace inviting us to leap unafraid into its beckoning depths. It is dark and mysterious in the waters of grace. Yet in the silent darkness we are given new eyes. In the heart of the divine we can see more clearly who we are. We are renewed and cleansed in this river of silence. There are those among you who fear the Great Silence. It is a foreign land to you. Sometimes it is good to leap into the unknown. Practice leaping.
~Macrina Wiederkehr, Seven Sacred Pauses