Monday, May 18, 2009

silence

On Saturday, from at least 9 am until 4:00 pm, we were silent. This silence was imposed on us as a group. It was a time for prayer, reflection, listening for God's voice. While we met at a Dominican Center, the only Catholic thing we did was to walk a prayer labyrinth like the one seen here, along with being silent. I found that prayer walk to be a good, profound experience for me, perhaps the most intimate of the day. And just being silent was good, even as we ate lunch together.

Like our Pastor Sharon said, a good share of God's working on me was over what annoyed me. Of course one encounters minor annoyances, not the least of which is having to pass people by and not speak. I really only had one annoyance, and it was a major one for me, but something God was able to use for good, even though it made part of my day uncomfortable. During the last hour, we had anointing with oil and prayer for those asking for healing or commissioning to service, and then holy communion together, before we left.

The result I can see from the experience is the desire to carry on more of the same into my regular daily life. Seeking God in more silence. And also an enlargening or deepening of my capacity to seek and want more of God and of his working and will in my life. Deb enjoyed it also.

Through silence hopefully God's word penetrates deeper into our hearts and lives. Sometimes before, or in the midst of this happening, we need to have our hearts exposed, coming to God in our helplessness and emptiness. That can be unpleasant, but often only through that do we begin to set our hearts on God. Although God works in different ways at different times, maybe giving us an extraordinary sense of his presence early on, while working on us later. For me there was no extraordinary sense of his presence at all throughout the day. But it was still a great day in God's presence with others of God's children.

Have any of you ever been a part of a silent retreat? Anything you'd like to share about that, or on this?

22 comments:

preacherman said...

I would love to be a part of a silence retreat. I think it would help in healing my heart and mind.

I think it would be therapudic.

Dave J. said...

I've enjoyed the preaching leading up to this retreat. And, ironically, feel too busy to take the day off for such a retreat. Adam said it was 'hard work'.

Some day I'll have to visit the labyrinth at 54th & Clyde Park.

nAncY said...

others i know that have gone to a retreat have said that they did not feel the presence of God like they thought they might. yet, they do come back with something from it that they did not expect.

i am glad that the two of you enjoyed this experience.

L.L. Barkat said...

I was writing about silence this weekend. I get more of it these days with my spouse often traveling.

In silence, I come down... I dream... I drift... sometimes I find unexpected sorrow or joy... I guess it's a noticing time and that is a gift.

(Okay, now I'm going to ask you for a wee little poem. Nothing fancy. Just speak the things you saw in silence. The things you heard, smelled. The way the light caught on your sleeve or that fork or the stone floor. Do try... :)

nannykim said...

I have not had a day of silence--just a segment of a day.

You said, :
"Sometimes before, or in the midst of this happening, we need to have our hearts exposed, coming to God in our helplessness and emptiness."

I think this same thing (that you said in this quote ) happens when you think you have a terminal illness or when you think your loved one is facing death, or when you are sitting with a loved one as they approach death. It all makes us realize the shortness of life on earth and the need of our hearts to be alive to God. It shows us our helplessness and our weakness and our neediness....perhaps because the labrinth spoke of birth and death this would work a similar work.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kinney,
I think you'd profit much by it, as anyone would. Though maybe the Lord could take you deeper than the rest of us, because you've been in the depths with some of the suffering you've gone through.

Yes, I would love to do this at least once a year. Next chance I get, if I can I'll take it!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Dave J.,
I think what you might be referring to at 54th and Clyde Park, near there, is the stations of the cross. I've walked that a number of times, but not the same as a prayer labyrinth. But maybe there's one there I'm unaware of?

Yes. The messages have been quite helpful. I didn't know an Adam was there. But in a way it was kind of hard, and it did even seem kind of like work. But very good. You'll have to go for it next time!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
For me the experience at the retreat itself was not that pleasant. But God was at work, of that I was sure then, and am even more sure afterwards.

To experience inward dryness and sense of great need is really a blessing. Because we know from Scripture that's required to receive from God and be filled.

Ted M. Gossard said...

....and thanks, Nancy.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L.,
Can't wait to see and read your next book to come.

Silence.
Stark.
Naked before God.
Hidden before man.
Mute and blind.
Trying to hear.

"Accept My love."
But why this?
Trust Me.
Yes, I know I must trust you, God.

Weeping over hymns.
Praying.
Trudging along.
Reading some Merton.

The end of silence.
Anointing with oil and prayer.
Holy communion.

Silence ended.
Bursting forth,
I overflow with words.
But I'm not the same.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nannykim,
I like your reflections.

Sharon did not explain the prayer labyrinth the way you desribe, and I didn't read the Wikipedia article, just glanced at it. As she explained it, there's a great deal of freedom in walking through the labyrinth. When you get to the midpoint of the walk, the center, it's kind of like the place in which you're just alone with God.

But yes. God strips us of our pretensions and the falsities we live in. Silence I think can help that. And doing it not just alone, but in community. Alone, I would sooner or later opt out. But there's a sense of accountability in community. And though silent, we're in it together.

I liked it, and hope to do more of it.

L.L. Barkat said...

Ted! Oh... Do you feel it? How the pictures begin to mediate the experience to you, to others in a quiet, strong way? I love your poem. Have you ever tried to write a poem before? You shall try again... you must... I hear echoes of a poetic Ted deep down. :)

nannykim said...

Ted--silence in community is an interesting thought---it almost seems like the two do not go together. It is really interesting to think about. When our Daughters of the King group meets monthly, the first 1/2 hour is spent together in silence...in just being in God's presence---it is good. It is helpful. I agree with you--

Dave J. said...

Good poem!

There is both a 'stations of the cross' and a labyrinth at that site.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., You're too much! But thanks so much.

Well, I remember writing a simple poem in the fourth or fifth grade, actually with some help from my mother. And I could probably quote it at least nearly verbatim to this day. It rhymes. Can't remember any since.

But okay. I'll have to try again. But like all my writings, such endeavors will be marked by simplicity, while hopefully not being simple. ha

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nannykim,
Thanks for bringing that point out. Yes, I agree. And we don't practice enough of it. It is good to be silent together like this.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Dave J.,
Thanks!

Wow, not far at all from where I live. Deb and I will have to find that prayer labyrinth.

L.L. Barkat said...

Actually, simplicity is one mark of a good poem, in my opinion. :)

Marcus Goodyear said...

Trudging along.
Reading some Merton.

Yup. That pretty much sums it up for me. Only instead of Merton, it is often something with Zombies. Though as for that, I do enjoy Merton.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I found Merton interesting, and looked at a biography on him as well- at the Catholic bookstore during our silence that day. I need to read the one book by Merton I have here, and gradually get into the other ones.

I liked the slow pace that day as well. We were indeed, trudging along, and I am carrying that some into my everyday life now, as I can.

I do know a young lady who is summer help for us at work, who likes to read books that have zombies. She is quite a reader, and I wish I would have read like she does, when I was younger.

Thanks.

Desert Pilgrim said...

Ted, thanks for this post. There is a hidden "something" we receive from times like these, even if we aren't aware of it, it is kind of an undercurrent of some sort of strengthening in the inner man.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Desert Pilgrim.

And yes, I need to do more of this. It would do me good to have another Saturday like that one, soon. Actually our church does plan to do that once a year, I think.