Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections Regarding my Five-day ( nearly-Silent ) Retreat

Meister Eckhart, a German theologian, philosopher and mystic ( Wikipedia ), wrote, "Nothing resembles the language of God so much as does silence." Though I didn't know about this particular quote, but believed its truth, I chose a silent retreat. Read Retreat? Charge to it!. It was simultaneously wonderful ( I would do such a thing again, in a heartbeat ) and disappointing ( I was not immersed in silence -- I was not speaking God's language ).

To give you a flavor of my experience, I quote from some of the writing I did while there.

Please note: I do not wish to provide information about where I was; words in braces { such as this } are general words substituting for the specific items. Sometimes, they are general words for specific items I choose not to reveal.
  1. As soon as I walked in the door, however, the silence was palatable, I thought. I knew I am alone, nobody here knows me, cares about me, wishes to talk to me.
  2. Aside from the silence feeling like a presence from the moment I walked in the door, "so far so good," I said bravely.
  3. I am aware of a sense of isolation and alone-ness. And it feels incredibly freeing.
  4. I realize I am stalling, killing time perhaps, before doing I am not sure what. .
  5. As I am sitting at breakfast, I realize I prefer, and possibly much prefer, this being silent routine. There is no pressure, expectation, hope, desire or anything to find someone with whom to make conversation of any kind...
  6. Not all of the { round trip } walk was silent.
  7. The silence is hard now; harder than it's been for sure. I'd really like to open my email, or text someone { Ellie, Benjamin, Andy ... }, or just go to and see who won yesterday's ball game, and today's.
  8. We cannot earn what I am seeking.
  9. I wept.
  10. "Five days is a long time." It does not seem long enough.
  11. I wonder if I know how to be with God
  12. I am back in my room; the constant and ubiquitous noise is back. I am dumbstruck by something utterly startling: this is not a quiet place to come to for a retreat! I am dumbfounded.
  13. My "weeping?" A couple, perhaps three, silent and giant sobs. My body kind of shook.
  14. all I get is an elderly monastic offering to help me with the prayer books for morning prayer?
  15. Talking with { my 2 atheist friends } would have been more like preaching to the Romans, or the Gentiles.
  16. I feel a fool ...
  17. A breath of God. And we meet Him where we least expect to find Him ... many sources suggest this.
I did perform to my plan by joining the community in prayer, fasting ( I did fast one entire day ), eating in the small room, reading and writing, sitting silently ( not a lot of this ), walking, praying and trusting.

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