Friday, July 06, 2007
OK, this is not where I'm going. (This is in Australia, and was taken by Grayson in December.) But it does convey the idea of what I'm going to do. I'm leaving Sunday for a 5 day silent retreat. I've done an 8-day retreat before two years ago, and it was really a meaningful time in nurturing my spirit. I can't compare it to any other experience, because when in real life do you get that much time with NO distractions, NO conversation, NO noise? It takes about two days for all the internal conversations to quiet themselves (or rather, talk themselves out) and then is when the good stuff starts to happen, the stuff that only silence can --at least in me-- elicit. Most folks, when I tell them what I'll be doing, sound very scared at the prospect of so much time alone and quiet! But you get to know a lot about yourself, and you gain quite a lot of insight, by being a hermit, even if only temporarily. Click on the post title for more information about silent retreats. I think I have one or two readers who live nearby ... If you come to visit me, you'll have to be quiet too! :-)
I won't have a computer or cellphone ....I might take Gray's camera, so I have a few shots to remember it by, but I won't be posting them until I return.
Just found this quote by Thomas Merton that I thought appropo:
Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence, an expectancy. And yet in a certain sense, we must truly begin to hear God when we have ceased to listen. What is the explanation of this paradox? Perhaps only that there is a higher kind of listening, which is not an attentiveness to some special wave length, a receptivity to a certain kind of message, but a general emptiness that waits to realize the fullness of the message of God within its own apparent void. In other words, the true contemplative is not the one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect or anticipate the word that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and when he is answered,” it is not so much by a word that busts into his silence. It is by his silence itself suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.” (“The Climate of Monastic Prayer, p. 90)