This past weekend we hosted a Silent Retreat weekend at Fall Creek Abbey. Five of us, some who knew each other and others who did not settled in for 3 days and 2 nights of s-i-l-e-n-c-e. We began with a meal Friday night to get to know each other a bit, then Beth rang the chime and we entered into the gift of silence together. Other than praying the Divine Hours at lunch and dinner--that was it; no more words. For the next two days we passed each other and nodded, respected each others space and found in a curious way God working his magic as we said and did nothing. On Sunday at lunch, Beth rang the chime and we broke the silence. Those who wanted shared how God had met them and what they received from the experience. I jotted some things down that morning as I found myself observing the effects of the silence. Here are my musings:
Time moves more slowly. A day is a long, leisurely season.
I taste my food and really notice its appearance.
I hear more birds.
My thoughts are less captive to vapid trivia and more drawn to simple wonder of life and being.
I dream more (night dreams).
My reading is less an escape and more of a walk with a friend.
I feel at peace as I am alone with The Alone.
I am more in touch and curious about what I am drawn to and less swayed by other's voices, agendas and opinions.
I sense I'm more at home in the natural world and more observant of it.
I notice a gentle sadness as I sink into the silence and cease thinking.
God seems quiet and content in the silence. There is nothing anxious about the silence between us; rather it seems to bond us together somehow.
The projects that emerge in my mind seem to come from a truer, more genuine place in me.
The non-verbal touch shared between me and others seems more important.
I am more observant with my eyes.
Simple tasks seem more leisurely, more measured and less intruding.
I feel cleansed; my eyes, my ears, my heart feel cleaner, freer, less pre-occupied, more able to focus on the "one thing" before me.
Speech is remembered as a burden, as does listening to others speak. Speech seems too complex, not basic or primal enough.
Eye contact and humor with those you share in silence returns slowly, if at all.
I am hungry for more!
It seems as I reflect on my experience, that the last statement sums it up. Once tasted, silence is like a creation of a master chef who can take the simplest of ingredients and transform them into a feast.