I’ve just gotten back from a weekend silent retreat, which is something I’d definitely recommend to anyone. It’s amazing how much easier it is to think clearly when you take some time to stop talking, put away your phone, and just experience the world as it actually is, behind all the distractions. Take away our human distractions, concerns, and quarrels, and you are left with the silent majesty of trees, the songs of birds, and rolling hills and mountains offering endless possibilities of adventure and exploration.
Flicking through my journal I found an entry from a retreat at the same place last year, (which was the first proper silent retreat I’d done), that I thought I’d share (basically unedited).
August 18th 2018
“Do we find it had to connect with God because we are no longer living in the world of life and beauty which He made for us? The world of pine trees and mountain rivers, fiery sunsets and ocean waves, birds and flowers, sunlight glistening through the drops of morning dew, the empty blue dome of the sky stretching over a grassy hill in the full warmth of summer, the golden-red leaves of Autumn scattered across the ground like rain of gold and fire, the rustling murmuring whisper of leaves in a forest on a windy day, the grand drama of a mountain peak thrusting itself up from the earth to live among the clouds or even a family playing under a sprinkler in the late daylight hours of a summer evening…do we find it hard to connect with God because instead we are almost always connected to the world of man, surrounded by a world of concrete and glass, technology and machines…we are obsessed with our own achievements, and why would we need to praise a Creator when we have basically created our own reality? In all this noise and technological activity we have lost the “sound” of silence – always blocking it out with superficial conversations, music, videos, texts, loud advertisements – we are afraid of the silence perhaps because it will show us that the world we are so proud of, the work of our own hand, cannot stand up to even the simple beauty of a flower shimmering in the early morning light, shaking off the last drops of a cool, dewy shower. This reminds us that there is another Creator outside ourselves, that we are not the gods, and that the world we did not create and which we cannot control is the creative masterpiece of the Divine Artist, who has not only brought His creation to life, but beckons it to join in communion with Him. To step out of the canvas and into the eternal joy and bliss of Perfect Love. “
In social settings silence is commonly viewed as a bad thing, an “awkward silence”, but sometimes a bit of silence is just what we need, because when we are silent, we become free to listen…